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Veneer can be finished just like any hardwood. The first step is proper sanding starting with a medium grit paper followed by a fine grit paper. This can be done with an electric sander or by hand. From this point, you can either stain the wood or finish with a clear finish. When sanding veneer, be sure not to get carried away and sand through it.
First, the surfaces of what we are veneering need to be prepared before applying what they call “peel and stick” veneer. For surfaces that have already been finished, lightly scuff the existing finish with a medium sandpaper. All sanding dust must be cleaned off with tack cloth, wipe entire surface with a clean cloth or suitable cleaning solvent. When applying veneer over plywood, real wood or any other porous substrate it is best to seal the surface first with shellac, varnish, polyurethane or any sealer. Be sure to allow the sealer to dry before putting the veneer on.
Cut veneer to a little bigger dimension than the actual size of area you are covering. This will let you place the veneer without having to be perfectly aligned with the surface being veneered. Begin applying pressure from the center out to avoid trapping air pockets in the center. To apply pressure to the veneer, it is best to use a stiff bladed scraping tool or wooden scraping block. Push down with as much pressure as possible and draw the tool toward you in the same direction as the grain. Repeat this pattern until you are sure you've gone over every square inch.
When trimming the veneer to the finished size, use a sharp razor knife or utility knife and cut the veneer back to the edge of the work piece. It is best to score your cut a few times before actually cutting through to prevent wood tear out. This is especially important when cutting across the grain. After trimming the veneer you will probably notice a sharp corner or edge. (This procedure for putting on the veneer is a lot like putting on Formica.) To ease this edge you can use a fine cabinet file held at a 45 degree angle and lightly run along the edge or if this option isn't available to you, use a fine grit sandpaper and lightly feather the edge with the sandpaper.