Laminated Veneer Pickguard

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by therealting, Dec 2, 2005.

  1. So after threatening to do it for a long while, I finally bought some nice wood veneer (burred oak, burred walnut) to make a pickguard for one of my basses.

    The veneer is very thin (0.6mm) and not very flat, so I am thinking of bonding it to a thin sheet of MDF (2-5mm), letting it dry and cure, then cutting the shape with a coping saw, sanding smooth and finally finishing it with tung oil. I intend to use double-sided tape so it can be removed later without damaging the body of the instrument.

    I have done a little bit of research and it seems the easiest way is to use iron-on veneer sheet glue, and ideally to use a veneer press. I don't have a veneer press, so I was thinking of using a 25kg sack of rice!

    Does this sound like a good plan? Do I need to do anything funky like soften the veneer first with steam etc?

    Cheers in advance for your advice, guys!

  2. I did this on my first ever guitar, and it went terribly wrong :crying:

    I did it 3-ply, all 3 veneers where very thin and the top one was thuya burl. I ended up with a very warped mess :crying:

    But i am playing with the idea again. I dont think MDF will work great but thats mainly because i would not like to have MDF on my guitars, it might work fine but i would feel ashamed :(

    I would probably back the veneer with a 2mm maple construction veneer. Then i would back that that with a thin, dark veneer like wenge with the grain running at 90 degrees to the maple. This would hopefull remove any cupping in the maple, wenge is quite stiff even in veneer so it should do the job well. For a simple veneer press i would get hold of two offcuts of kitchen worktop a little bigger than the size you need and get a lot of big clamps to go around the edge. I like the kitchen worktop because it is quite thick so wont distort to much and pressure should be quite even, and it has a surface that is relatively non-stick. I like the idea of the veneer glue sheets but havnt used them yet.
  3. You don't have to buy adhesive veneer, you can make it yourself. By brushing light coats of your favorite good wood glue - yellow or white - you can create a layer of dry adhesive that will do the same thing under heat and pressure. Lots of the MIMF'ers have done this.

    MDF is fine and I wouldn't worry about it in the application you are using. If you get "embarassed" by it's invisible existence, just don't tell anybody what and where it is - problem solved. Other suitable materials you can consider are sheet acrylic, styrene, Masonite (different from MDF), hobby ply, old pickguard material, or just about any clear quartersawn piece that's thin enough to fit your needs.

    If you're going to lay-up a laminate of veneers, don't forget to alternate the direction of the grain between the layers. This is how real plywood is made and how they keep the sheets from warping. I've done it both ways and the difference is dramatic.
  4. Also, if you use epoxy, you'll minimize warping effect because it contains no water, as opposed to wood glue. Lay it between some flat backings (glass, MDF or plywood come to mind) and you'll have a great flat pickguard.
  5. Cheers for the replies guys. So if I go get some thin MDF, rough it up with sandpaper, paint it with some glue, let it dry, and then steam iron some veneer onto it (through a cloth), I am good to go?

    Do I just go to the local hardware store and look for anything labelled epoxy then?

    The only glue I have is a twist-nozzle bottle of "Evo Stik Wood Adhesive" which looks like white glue, and has no clue as to what kind of glue it is apart from saying "Resin W 100% Bond"... is that any good?
  6. jeffhigh


    May 16, 2005
    White PVA glue is good for heat bonding with an Iron but use the iron dry without steam. If you use steam you will expand the veneer with the steam and then it will dry and shrink and crack.
  7. Wood Ascention

    Wood Ascention

    Nov 7, 2004
    Another idea is a piece of formica. Should prevent warping and provide a resilliant thin substrate for you venier.
    Good Luck