DIY Projects Using Veneer
A Sheet of Veneer
Team DIY project designer Katie Leporte challenged herself: How many cool home-decor projects could she create with a sheet of veneer? The answer: A lot. Keep clicking to find inspiring photos of her projects -- as well as PDF downloads of the patterns so you can make them yourself.
DIY Tip: Veneer comes in hundreds of varieties. Many are available at local home supply centers. You can pick up a big roll of oak, birch, or maple veneer for less than $40. (A roll is more than enough to complete most of the projects shown here.) Or visit a specialty wood store or online supplier for exotic styles, such as teak, rosewood, leopard wood, and more.
These cheerful "floating" florals seem to dance in the air. You can make this sweet accent in less than an hour.
Veneer is a great way to rehabilitate found objects and thrift-store scores. For this hallway organization and display station, Katie found three drawers from an abandoned dresser, removed the knobs and hardware, then painted the drawers white both inside and out. She measured and cut veneer to fit inside two of the drawers. To add a bit of visual interest, she stamped flowers on the veneer pieces before affixing them to the inside of the drawers with wood glue.
To create this floating console table, she screwed the drawers to the wall and topped the piece with a wood shelf. Now it's the perfect place to display treasures and corral keys and wallets. Bonus: It takes up zero floor space.
Wood on the Wall
This fun, abstract artwork mimics the branches of a tree -- only more mod. Katie cut 4-inch-wide strips of maple veneer. She used wood glue to glue two pieces back-to-back so wood grain is visible on both sides. Then she affixed the strips to the wall with adhesive-backed plastic hinges. Cut and affix as many strips as you like. Crafts scissors are all you need to cut thin veneer.
Ticket stubs, important receipts, business cards. Little scraps of paper tend to get lost in the shuffle. Katie devised a way to corral the clutter and keep these paper orphans organized. She picked up a cheap wood cube at a home center, then used wood glue to attach cut-to-size veneer pieces to each side. A big rubber band keeps papers in place.
Wood Grain in a Weekend
The three projects featured here -- the veneer grid wall, the coffee table, and the veneer lampshade -- may look difficult, but Katie completed all three projects in a weekend. You can, too, with her step-by-step instructions for creating each piece.
This isn't the tacky pine paneling of swinging '70s-era dens. This tasteful wood-grain wall art looks expensive, but Katie paid about $200 for all of the materials.
1. Select your veneer. Katie loves the realistic pattern and stability of the MDF-backed walnut veneer shown here. She bought it at a specialty wood shop. But you could also cut your shapes from a roll of paper-backed veneer, which is available at home centers.
2. Use graph paper to create a scale diagram of your wall. Use a 1 inch = 1 foot ratio. Don't skip this step; it's much easier to make the most of your materials if you map your plan first. Katie varied the sizes and shapes of her rectangles to create visual interest.
3. Draw your pattern on the wall with a ruler, level, and pencil. Follow the 1 inch = 1 foot ratio. Vary the direction of the wood grain.
4. Carefully cut each rectangle from your veneer. If you're using paper-backed veneer, use a light coat of wood glue to attach each veneer piece to a same-size panel of MDF. This will give the pieces more support and prevent rippling.
5. Use power adhesive (Katie used the kind in a caulking tube) to affix the panels to the wall. Nail in place for added security. Place the nails near the outside edges of the panels so they'll be concealed when you add molding.
6. Nail inexpensive molding in the same finish over the seams between the panels to polish the look.
This secondhand lamp was in dire need of some love. But Katie saw its potential. She primed and painted the base white and ditched the too-small shade. She picked up a cheap wire lampshade frame at a flea market to serve as the support for the new shade.
Then she used this pattern to trace and cut out panels from a sheet of paper-backed veneer. She adhered the cutouts to the frame in an overlapping pattern using crafts glue. Finally, she lined the inside of the shade with translucent Japanese paper to allow a bit of light to shine through.
Curvy Coffee Table
Instant update! Katie primed and painted a basic IKEA coffee table, then used this pattern to trace and cut out shapely new legs from a roll of veneer. She used veneer adhesive to attach them to the original table legs.
From the leaf-motif art on the wall to this display cabinet, veneer's versatility shines again. Keep clicking to see how Katie crafted each of these projects.
One gal's scrap metal is another's treasure. Katie rescued this tattered radiator cover from a flea market. She primed and painted the entire piece (what a difference paint makes!), then added two shelves inside. She created a walnut veneer base for the bottom, and filled the shelves with some of her favorite things.
Here's your chance to get creative. You can alter this project a zillion ways and still wind up with a crafty-cool product. Keep clicking to discover how Katie made the veneer wall art piece shown here. Then customize and create your own!
Choose three varieties of veneer in highly contrasting tones. Katie used walnut burl, maple, and fig cherry. She drew simple leaf patterns in varying sizes on white construction paper, then traced the shapes onto the veneer.
Cut with Care
Carefully cut your leaf shapes from the veneer.
DIY Tip: Katie recommends cutting around the shapes roughly at first, then cutting more precisely around the curves. Exotic wood varieties are more delicate and prone to splitting than basic paper-backed veneers.
Copy and Paste
Arrange your leaf shapes on a craft wood base. Brush glue onto the backs of the shapes. The veneer may curl slightly; don't worry about this. Wipe off the excess glue, then set books on top of the leaves to flatten. Allow to dry.
Roll It Out
Cut MDF pieces and veneer sizes to match. Katie cut hers to 9x9 and 8x10 inches. Affix the veneer to the MDF with veneer adhesive. Use a roller to smooth any ripples. Now the fun part: embellish, decorate, and customize! Katie found a gingerbread molding piece and a mini skillet at a crafts store, painted them white, and glued them on top of the veneered MDF. Then she hung the leaf motifs behind the MDF artwork.
The woven headboard gives this bedscape a natural, organic feel. To make it, you'll build two separate frames: a hidden one from cheap-o poplar and a prettier outer frame constructed from maple. You'll glue the weaving strips to the poplar frame so the edges won't show. You'll also need three poplar supports to affix to the back of the headboard so the weave won't bow.
Plan the width and height for your headboard. This will depend on the size of your bed. Katie's headboard measured 77 inches by 5 feet. This will determine how long your veneer strips need to be. A thick variety of maple called "no black line" veneer is ideal for this project; it's durable and easy to work with.
Measure and cut strips of veneer in three widths -- 2, 3, and 4 inches -- and two lengths. On the poplar frame, measure and mark where the strips will be attached.
Glue, then staple the shorter strips vertically onto the poplar frame, leaving 1 inch between strips. Katie placed three poplar supports vertically at equal intervals across the back of the frame to minimize rippling and stabilize the frame. Weave the longer strips horizontally through the vertical veneer strips, alternating the 2-, 3-, and 4-inch widths. Start each strip through the middle, then push it up or down to the desired placement. Leave 1 inch of space between each horizontal strip.
With the strips in place and the supports secured to your headboard, position the poplar frame within the maple outer frame. Fasten the two together, then coat the entire unit with at least one coat of clear polyurethane.
Katie used an old wire lampshade frame as a guide for this pretty pendant light fixture. She cut rectangles from paper-backed veneer, then overlapped and glued them around the wire frame. She used veneer leaf cutouts and paper flowers to embellish the frame. Her lamp is suspended from a simple hanging-bulb wiring kit purchased at a local hardware store.
On the Side
This side table was in sad shape when Katie snagged it for $20 at an estate sale. She saw past the brass insert and dated dark wood to the piece's fabulous lines and sturdy condition. A coat each of primer and fresh lime-green paint breathed new life into the table. Then Katie added a cut-to-size veneer insert over the brass meshing. Before she popped the veneer into place, she stamped on a few sweet flower accents in white.
Two-Tone Wall Art
Artwork in an hour? No problem. Katie used an inexpensive piece of MDF as the base for this project. She cut two pieces of veneer in contrasting finishes: The larger piece covers the lower two-thirds of the MDF; the smaller veneer piece covers the upper one-third. She used veneer adhesive to attach each piece to the MDF. Then she used a pretty ribbon to conceal the seam.