Saturday, November 7, 2015

Best Adhesive For Thin Wood Veneer?

What is the best adhesive to use on thin wood such as shingles or veneer for flooring? I posed this question on the Greenleaf Forum recently, and the answers were as varied as the species of wood available.

Some liked to use hot glue, but the drawback was the longevity and the fact that getting burned was common. Some liked to use rubber cement, but others pointed out that eventually it dries out and loses it's bond. Some said contact cement, but others reminded us that you only get one chance to position it correctly. Once it's touched to the other piece, you're out of luck. Also, the smell was terrible. Still others said regular wood glue, securely clamped until the glue cures. Yet some said they had bad experiences with wood glue not drying clear and wood still curling in spite of clamping. Then there was the super glue camp, also pointing out the mess and the expense.

What this told me is that we've all experimented and didn't like some of the results with different products. But do we all have our favorites in spite of certain risks?

I had a terrible time finding a good solution with Encounters Gifts & Grub. I had thin veneer strips from HBS that I wanted to use as clapboard, wainscoting and paneling. Plus, there were all of the shingles! I had a lot to do, and needed whatever it was going to be to work!

I started out with Tacky Glue and quickly realized that the only way to prevent curling was to put a thin sheen of it across the piece then get it down immediately and clamp it. That's okay if you have a lifespan of 1000 years and can wait for glue to dry. Even the clamping quickly method sucked. When I lifted the clamp off I now had oozed glue to clean up. Tacky is not a good candidate for sanding, either.

Then I tried contact cement. Oh it stuck! To me and everything else within a 10 foot radius. And, if you aren't a pristine crafter, you'll end up like me with little rubberized gobs sticking out between your seems. :0(

I tried Quick Grab. I was just as messy with that. I couldn't get it applied fast enough! I'd put out a little squirt on waxed paper, try to get the cap back on quickly before the oozing became too incessant, then try to spread it on the wood before it became too crusty to stick. I always somehow ended up with it on my fingers and didn't realize it until I had touched something. At $7 for that tube I'd have needed to be a millionaire to get all my wood attached. <insert sad sigh>

In my pout, head on the table, 1000 mile stare, I just so happened to look at my wallpaper paste. It was sitting at eye level. It said "A Stikflat Glue". What? Could it be?!? It was the one and only Grandmother Stover's. I've been using that on wallpaper for ever! And it makes other stuff stick flat? At this point I really had nothing to lose.

I took an old paint brush and painted a nice, thin bead across the wood strip. I stuck it on the wall. It stuck. I stared at it for what seemed like a full week. I never caught it curling. After several cocktails hours, I tried to pry it off. Nope! It was not coming off! Success! I used it to glue the rest of my veneer without a problem. It was easy to wipe off any excess with water, dried clear, and over three years later is still holding on great! Plus, it's like $5, and goes a loooong way!

Okay, so I thought I might get an answer from the collective genius of the forum. Some magic product I had never heard of, and it would change my life. Not so much. It seemed everyone was just as dissatisfied as I had been. So, for the Alki Point flooring, I decided to experiment again.

I used what I had on hand, because I assume most miniature enthusiasts would have the same type of adhesives, too. Quick Grab Tacky Glue, Titebond Wood Glue (the clear drying kind), and good old Grandmother Stover's.

I have a pack of very thin veneer to use on my project, so what better to experiment with. I cut several long and several short pieces using my rotary paper trimmer. I took a piece of the 1/8" plywood from the Greenleaf kit (cut out left over from window) to use as the gluing surface.

Then I added the adhesives to the long and short pieces, and affixed them to the plywood scrap. I pressed each of them a few times, but didn't want to clamp them. What would they do on their own without any force over time?

They have been drying for a couple of hours now, and the results are pretty much as I expected.

The Quick Grab Tacky - dried with edges curling up
The Titebond - Significant curl initially, drying somewhat flatter but still not flat
The Grandmother Stover's - Never curled, Stukflat, Stayingflat!

Please do your own experimenting and please share your comments! I'd love to hear about what has worked (and not worked) for you!

I know what I'll be using for the wood floors on the Alki Point! Good old Grandmother Stover's!


  1. Interesting. I have never glued veneer, so I have no ideas to share. Looks like Grandma Stover wins this time!

    1. Let's just keep our collective fingers crossed! So far, so good on the veneer strips! The actual veneer is so beautiful!

  2. OH MY GOD! I love you. I just spend most of my Saturday gluing on some siding I got from HBS. I tried to get it to adhere to the house itself but it kept curling. I finally glued it all to foamboad and will glue the board to the side of the house. The foamboard is spending time under very heavy books and magazines to keep all the siding flat because it curls so much. I will now go and order the Grandma Stovers glue for the rest of the house!

    I repeat. I love you. You're awesome!

    1. Oh Sheila I am so glad this experiment helped you! I hope that you have the same amazing luck with the Grandmother Stover's that I did! I am gluing all of the little veneer flooring strips on to the kit floors now, and so far, it's working beautifully!

  3. Ah, the which glue test. Been there, have the t'shirt. I stick to everbuild contact adhesive with all veneer and white wood glue for everything else. But I have had issues with both. We really need a dollhouse approved glue for all applications =0)

    1. I know! I think we need a Weird Al version of Huey Louis' "I Want A New Drug". It should be called "I Want A New Glue"!

  4. Jodi, I just found your blog. I am a newbie, and am gathering all kinds of information. You are so entertaining to read! I really like that you know when it is time to move on to something new! Thanks for the tips on glue!

  5. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, Martha! And welcome to the fulfilling and addicting world of miniatures! If you haven't joined already, I recommend joining the Greenleaf dollhouse forum. There are miniaturists participating from brand new ones to lifelong artisans. Everyone is so willing to guide, support, answer questions and in general just connect with one another. You can get there from here:

    Thanks again for reading my blog and commenting! And good luck with making your mini dreams come true!