Use Shrink Wrap as a Clamp for Veneer

Use Shrink Wrap as a Clamp for Veneer: 

While trying to attach a carved 18“-thick mahogany veneer to the edge of a curved shelf, an idea came to me as a last moment glue-up solution.

Initially I thought I could make it easier to bend by wrapping the sawn veneer in a towel then saturating it with boiling water; this didn’t have the effect for which I had hoped. As I started to bend the veneer around the shelf, it was apparent that it would not lie flat around the curve.

Grabbing a small offcut of the shelf to use as a caul, I clamped it to the apex of the curved edge, but this still left the balance of the veneer away from the shelf.

Use shrink wrap as a clamp for veneer

While trying to attach a carved 18“-thick mahogany veneer to the edge of a curved shelf, an idea came to me as a last moment glue-up solution.

Initially I thought I could make it easier to bend by wrapping the sawn veneer in a towel then saturating it with boiling water; this didn’t have the effect for which I had hoped. As I started to bend the veneer around the shelf, it was apparent that it would not lie flat around the curve.

Grabbing a small offcut of the shelf to use as a caul, I clamped it to the apex of the curved edge, but this still left the balance of the veneer away from the shelf.

My next thought was to use masking tape. But the veneer was still damp, so I couldn’t be sure the tape would hold. And the glue was setting fast.

Then it hit me. If I had something that would stretch like rubber and was clear so I could see the glue joint, I could work my way from the apex of the curve to the back edge of the shelf to get a good glue joint. I would then be able to accomplish the glue-up.

My eyes fell upon a roll of shrink wrap – just what I needed. I wrapped it around the curve and tied it off at the top of the clamp. I repeated the process until the entire assembly was covered and secure. As a bonus, the translucence of the shrink wrap allowed me to keep tabs as I worked.

Everything worked out, but I think it will be a while before I attempt a glue-up again without first making a dry run. -Tim DeKorte

Clamps are a must-have for any woodworker. They provide a stable surface for gluing and clamping pieces of wood together. But what if you don’t have a clamp? Or what if the piece you’re trying to clamp is too big or too small? In cases like this, you can use shrink wrap as a clamp.

Shrink wrap is a thin, plastic film that shrinks when heat is applied to it. When you apply heat to shrink wrap, it tightens around whatever it’s covering. This makes it perfect for clamping wood, especially veneer.

To use shrink wrap as a clamp, first lay the veneer flat on a work surface. Then, place a piece of shrink wrap over the veneer. Make sure the shrink wrap is big enough to cover the entire area of the veneer.

Next, use a heat gun or hair dryer to apply heat to the shrink wrap. The heat will cause the wrap to tighten around the veneer and hold it in place. Once the veneer is clamped, you can proceed with your woodworking project.

When you’re finished, the shrink wrap can be removed easily. Just apply heat to the wrap and it will loosen and come off.

Shrink wrap is a great alternative to clamps, especially when you don’t have the right size clamp or you’re working with a large piece of veneer. Give it a try the next time you need to clamp something in place!

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