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Hopefully this is a quick question, but I am building a small shelf out of cherry and maple with a lamp on top. The lamp shade is designed to hold spalted maple veneers in thin sheets so that the wood glows when the light is turned on. The lamp shade is framed with 1/2" x 1/2" cherry with 1/4" lip on the inside of the shade for the veneer to be pressed against. I'll either be tacking small blocks into the frame behind the veneers, or just using some window putty to hold them in(like old windows), which will allow me to replace them easily of something punches through one in the future :huh:

Now to the finishing question, I am using a left over can over General Finishes wiping varnish from another project I just finished, and since the veneers are so flimsy, I'd rather finish them before installing them in the lamp shade, however I'm worried about them curling and not being flexible enough to straighten out once the varnish is cured. I've also considered taping them down to my bench and finishing that way(1/4" of the edges will be covered by the shade frame anyway), but then my concern is the varnish going over the edges, so seeping through the worm holes on the spalted maple and sticking to the surface it's taped to. I'd then be worried about destroying the veneer trying to pry it up from the surface.

Has anyone ever tried finishing just a plain veneer like this before, and if yes, how did you do it?
 

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I think you are going to have a rough time finishing the veneer by hand and especially using a wipe on varnish. Most anything you wet the veneer with is going to make the veneer wrinkle. I think if I were going to do this I would use lacquer and spray it on and in very thin coats. I think lacqer would dry before it affected the veneer so much. It would also be better if you would finish both sides. If you seal one side the humidity in the air will affect the veneer. If you don't have the means of spraying, lacquer can be purchased in rattle cans.
 
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