Saturday, March 7, 2015

Homemade Veneer Hammer

I was recently making a marquetry panel and needed (or wanted) to veneer the back in a cheap veneer to balance the panel.  My vacuum pump was out of commission, so I turned to the idea of hammer veneering (at least for the backer veneer...hammer veneering the marquetry to the front of the panel would likely be a good exercise in ruining marquetry).  I'd never tried hammer veneering and didn't have a veneer hammer.

Perusing the internet for a veneer hammer to purchase, I wasn't overly excited by what I saw.  I decided I'd make my own.  The veneer hammer you see below is entirely out of scrap except for the 1/4" brass strip at the business end of the hammer.  The head is a scrap of oak left over from building the chevalet; the handle is an extra cherry leg from a coffee table.  The brass strip is 1/8" thick, 1 1/4" wide.  I bought a 12" length off Amazon for $6.

I took the basic dimensions and shape of the veneer hammer from Tage Frid's article in FWW #10.  I think there's about 1/4" of brass sticking out of the head.  I eased the edges and corners of the brass strip with a file.  I used a double wedged tenon to secure the handle to the head.  I did some rough shaping on the handle using rasps and a spokeshave, just to make it comfortable.

I did not bother securing the brass strip into the head of the veneer hammer.  It's just press fit in a snug groove.  (One reason I left it proud on the ends: so I can easily pry it out if I ever choose to.)

This is not a tool to show off at an art's for working.  The next one I make, I'll be sure to start with enough material at the end of the handle to flare it out a bit, but I don't imagine I'll be so vigorous with this one as to lose my grip.  It's really just a squegee.

I used a brass strip so that I can put the veneer hammer in a dish of hot water to keep the metal warm.  The brass won't rust.  What I did was put a little water in a small pan on a hot plate, then stuck the brass of the veneer hammer in the water.

This worked out very nicely.  I'm glad I tried hammer veneering, and I'm glad I made my own veneer hammer (total cash outlay = $6...not bad).  I intend to use this technique on work in the future.  If you want to see a good video on hammer veneering, go to and search for hammer veneer (or click here).

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