veneer without vacuum?


is there a way to put wood weener ona surfboard other than vacuum baging?



I’ve never used a vacuum system and all I do is wood…

For veneers, consider contact cement, pressure sensitive adhesives, stretch wrap, masking tape, sand bags, water bags, etc…

Use your creative thinking, strategic planning and what you have on hand, or can borrow…

Yes there is. Before I commanded a Vac manchine I did it with water bed bladders which had a diameter of 6 inches or 150mm … used in waveless waterbeds. It works extremely well but you need to have a stringer bed underneath or your board will end up flat irioning board style. That’s a pretty bad look and also a waste of time. LOL. 


If you can find the bladders … just drape them over the surface diagonally  and gravity will do the job for you. I found it best to use them only half full.


In a conversation with Mactavish he told me his first attempt at veneering was acheived by burying the board under a layer of sand almost funeral like. 


You can do it mate. Don’t need no vacuume bag or box. 


Cheers Mate … hope it helps. 


David Franks on Face book. 








Just get a vac pump. You will have huge headaches and failure any other way.  Spend the $40-$50 and do it right.

Well it actually depends on what sort of veener you are pulling. A 2mm Balsa?.. A 500 micron of hard wood? or in my case 3mm [1/8’] of Ceder. Balsa at 2mm is a piece of piss to laminate just using tape for crying out loud and 500 micron of standard veneer … you could laminate with hot breath FFS.  I Love my VAC machine which pulls 80% vacuum but for the average punter to get started there are alternatives which are not a pain in the arse but rarther a pain in the back lifting them into place. 


Just saying. :wink:




The methods I mentioned above all work just fine…I’m not saying that those methods are better or worse than a vacuum set-up… I’m simply answering honestly that it can and has been done…Slow down and enjoy the process…

Resinhead, I have a question, with a $50 set-up, can you guarantee failure free results from the start…???..You seem to imply that…What’s a realistic expectaction to get it right…How many boards before the results are perfect…???..

Also, with a vacuum system, do you need something under the board to maintain rocker…???..Does that add to the cost of building the board…???..Does each board need it’s own individual bed…???..I’m undereducated about vacuum systems, their cost and process…I just know I’ve never had the need to use one…And please don’t tell me to search the archives…

I can’t really think of any method of board building that can guarantee perfection from the start.  As well, I think there’s some merit to the adage that you get what you pay for.  

If you’re using a stringered blank and you don’t max the vacuum it won’t significantly pull on the blank.   If you’re conservative about that kind of thing, one way to lock a straight rocker in is to glass the blank with a single layer of cloth first and then bag the veneer directly over that.  Another way to improve your odds is to template the blank and shape in your bottom contour and veneer that first before foiling the deck and finishing the rails.    There’s no saying you have to completely finish shape the board first before laying your first veneer.  The pros do that because they don’t want to go back-n-forth between shaping and laying veneers but the backyarders can alter the sequence a little to suit.  


I don’t do perfect work, but I’ve never once had a problem laying a clean veneer under vacuum.  It’s pretty straightforward if you do your research and put some thought into it beforehand.  I consider that process to be a lot less demanding on the novice glasser than getting a clean cutlap with a wet lam.    I’ve made other mistakes with veneer boards, but actually laying them was never one of them.  It’s even easier if you don’t care what the “lapline” looks like and you don’t bring them out onto the rails where you’re dealing with compound curves.  .  

There’s no reason someone couldn’t lay veneers in narrow “planks” - one or two or three at a time like the HWS builders do.  


I have to agree with resinhead here. There all otherways to do it but unless you have things laying around the house you can use, like water bed bladders, it will cost just as much to get a cheap system started. 

No Mr. Jensen there is no guarantee it will work, but thats the same amount of guarantee you get the first time you do anything. You don’t need a rocker table unless the blank is stringless. To get the veneer down you don’t have to pull so much vacuum that the board will twist under the pressure.

After toying with the idea of not gettting a vac system to save $$, i got a 40 pump off ebay and spent another 60 or so for the vac bagging parts. I’ve had issues, but not with the equipment. Just depends what angle you want you learning curve to look like.



My system is guaranteed. Works everytime all the time.  But operator error, buliding errors, laminating errors, finishing errors are all another thing.

get a gast 704 pump on ebay, get some tubing, some plastic bag, a valve stem from a truck, and some window sealant. And you are through.

Won't go into the build detail, because that and this topic has been hashed adnausem.


Here's the last vac bagged board.




My first boards were good...although a bit heavy and stiff, but were solid construction.  I was at Gregs and Kens Cerittos College seminars on the timberflex build back 5 or 6 years.  It was all spelled out there, and on the swaylock site.  So following the steps will get you good results. In the timber flex build as long as the shaping is good, the veneer skining of the blank is almost like doing a airbrush job..It's just one more step in the process.

But the devil is in the details, Timberflex, or poly boards, or whatever boards. If you're not so good at any of the steps...then you're gonna to make a sub par surfboard.  But skinning a veneer on a blank is probably the easiest step in the build process.   There are way more opportunities to F-up if you are a horrible shaper, crappy glasser, pathetic sander, or an 5 thumbed glosser.


The board pictured appears to be of exceptional quality Resinhead.  I suspect that has more to do with the skill of the builder than a vacuum setup.

How many veneer boards will the builder be making?  A couple or one hundred?

Mr. Jensen’s point of view does have its merits.  Sometimes the Low-Tech Shed Dweller solution is the more practical option …

There are way more opportunities to F-up if you are a horrible shaper, crappy glasser, pathetic sander, or an 5 thumbed glosser.”


LOL.  Guilty

Trust me, I'm low tech. I just take my time and don't rush, always thinking a few steps ahead.

Sure you can. All of Paul’s methods work if you want it to. I made my own Balsa veneer from a 4"x4". Cut on my bandsaw to 3/16" thickness. Glued to a semi-flat bottom. Used a flt board with sandbags for weight. Since a was planning solid Balsa rails, it was easy to outline and shape in the bottom contours I wanted. This board is a stringerless EPS blank. Inlayed some Burlap on the deck with some Epoxy. Did the veneer and solid Balsa rails, then glassed the board with P.U. Resin.

It is possible. Vacs probably make it easier the get it to conform to the contours much easier. Makes sense.

I’ve always appreciated ingenuity and alternative methods to get the job done.

Some of the alternative methods I’ve heard here are quite ingenious.


and still the resistanse  prevails?    its a tool  just like any of your other tools.    it  should be part of any modern surfboard builders kit

its not a black widow     it just sucks’’




**  cheers huie


and still the resistanse  prevails?    its a tool  just like any of your other tools.    it  should be part of any modern surfboard builders kit

its not a black widow     it just sucks''




  cheers huie




There’s quite a few , but they’re nowhere near as quick or efficient as a vac…I used a clamping system for years before I got a vac…you interested in investing in 100 used clamps Mouse ,going cheap ?..the real bonus with vaccuum , is it not only gives good even pressure , it also draws the air out of your laminate , greatly increasing strength and bond between the surfaces…you could put the board on a rocker bed and put a few barrow loads of sand on it…or you could buy that crappy veneer , with “melt glue” on one side and iron it on…rail to rail small clamps ( or threaded rod rocker beds) with flexible battens to take the deck curviture…do you have a phobia about vacuum cleaners ?

It’s a simple and effective method.    I think what scares people is all the talk about needing complicated and/or expensive vacuum rigs.  

i think ill go with the vacuum… bought the veneer today. it is not perfectly flat so vacuum is probbly my best bet althoug veneer is only 1 mm thick. got to find a fridge motor tomorrow :slight_smile:

thanks for the help guys