The Original "Heat-and-Bond" Veneer Glue!
Heat Lock™ is the woodworker's solution for small or irregularly shaped veneering projects. Designed specifically for iron-on veneering, this adhesive bonds raw and paper-backed veneers to porous substrates such as wood, plywood, MDF and particle board with an ordinary household clothes iron. Having you been looking for iron-on wood veneer but found it too expensive and has limited species availability? If so, Heat Lock solves the problem by allowing you to bond almost any wood veneer to your next project.
To use Heat Lock, simply apply a uniform coat to the substrate and the back side of the veneer. The substrate must be porous. Allow both pieces to dry. Then place the veneer onto the substrate and use a clothes iron (set on medium/high) to "re-activate" the adhesive binder. Apply even downward pressure giving the full veneer area ample time to heat up and bond. Allow an additional 1 to 3 hours for full bond strength.
Better Bond Heat Lock™ is Ideal For...
Tips from Joe: Heat Lock is a superb adhesive and takes only a small amount of practice to master. I recommend experimenting with veneer scraps before tackling your first project. Be sure to keep the iron moving at all times and, of course, be careful to avoid burning yourself. For best results, apply two coats of Heat Lock to the veneer before ironing. Lastly, an old cotton or flanel Tee shirt between the veneer face and the iron will prevent the veneer from burning. Bookmatching or any other veneer seaming technique can be difficult with Heat Lock due to the method of application. If your project involves a veneer seam/joint a vacuum press would be ideal. Check out the Heat Lock FAQ before ordering. Heat Lock is not suitable for use with crotch grain wood veneers.
If you're ordering veneer glue, don't forget a glue roller. It's worth every penny.
How do I apply Heat Lock?
Please click here to learn how Heat Lock adhesive is applied.
Can I use yellow glue for iron-on veneer as well?
There are many websites that say you can use yellow glue for iron-on veneering. I find it so disheartening that anyone would deceive their audience but it seems to be common on the internet these days. They make a 60 second video, post it on YouTube, and now they are an expert who swindles thousands of people. What a shame. While you can use a clothes iron to re-activate yellow glue, the one thing you don't see in those misleading "tutorials" is what happens one season later when the ambient humidity changes and the wood cells in the veneer shrink or expand. When this happens, the yellow glue lets the veneer move. This is called "cold creep". It allows the veneer edges to lift and the center parts of the veneer either crack or bubble depending on the direction of the humidity change. Heat Lock glue dries much harder so the cold creep simply does not happen.
What tools do I need to use Heat Lock?
In addition to veneer, substrate material and the HL adhesive , you'll need a clothes iron, glue roller, and a small piece of cotton or flannel cloth. You may also find it helpful to have masking tape available.
Do I need to do a practice sheet first?
Yes! It’s always a good idea to do a test panel with some scrap before you begin.
Will Heat Lock work on thicker veneers?
This adhesive is not suitable for veneers over 1/42".
What species does this glue work with?
We've tested Heat Lock with 60 different species of wood and achieved excellent results with each one. Even oily woods like teak respond well to Heat Lock. The only veneers with some issues are quilted bubinga and occasionally with figured mahogany. The extremely dense wood cells in this species do not respond well to heat.
How much heat is needed to bond a veneer with Heat Lock?
Bonding is best done with the clothes iron on set to medium/high. On some irons, this will be the "cotton" setting which is approximately 193°F.
Can I use Heat Lock for seaming two or more veneers together?
Bookmatching or any other veneer seaming technique can be very difficult with Heat Lock™ due to veneer shrinkage from the heat of the iron. However, there is a possible "work-around" for the problem. To solve the shrinking problem, you can place a straight piece of clothes hanger wire about 2" away from the seam. Then iron down the seam. Next, pull the clothes hanger wire out and iron down the bubble that it left behind. This will force the seam tight. This technique requires a bit of practice but it does work well once you get an idea of how much shrinking will occur from the iron.
What kind of wood grains are compatible with Heat Lock?
Burl veneer is probably the best grain with Heat Lock. The interlocking and variant grain pattern in a burl allows the wood cells to respond to heat without splitting or cracking. Quilted, curly, bird's eye, and straight grain veneer should be treated with veneer softener to minimize splitting near the edges.
Why do I need veneer softener when ironing the veneer?
Veneer softener makes wood cells pliable and allows them contract and expand without separating and thereby causing a split.
Will this adhesive work with paperbacked and 2 ply veneers?
Heat Lock will work very well with paper-backed veneers if the backing is first scuff sanded. However, two-ply veneers have a tendency to be problematic because the extra layer of wood on the back of the veneer insulates the glue line from the heat of the iron and therefore, this product is not recommended.
Can I cut small strips of veneer to make custom edgebanding?
Yes! Heat Lock is great for edgebanding. Be sure to apply you banding before you veneer the top of the panel.
Do I need to veneer both sides of the panel?
Yes. Most panels less than 3/4" thick will warp if both sides are not veneered. This is a phenomenon that affects all forms of veneering including vacuum press work.
Why do I need the cotton or flannel cloth?
The cloth is placed between the iron and the veneer to prevent scorching. This also reduces direct heat on the veneer which will minimize splitting caused by excessive heat or poorly manufactured veneer.
Can I use Heat Lock to repair piece of damage or lifted veneer?
Veneer has a tendency to shrink from the heat of the clothes iron which will leave a gap between the edge of the damaged/delaminated veneer and the edge of the original veneer. In this case, the best option is to use BetterBond cold press veneer glue and place some weight on top of the delaminated veneer while it dries.
My project is fairly large. How much coverage can I expect from a pint?
Heat Lock was designed for woodworkers and cabinetmakers who do not want to invest in a vacuum press for small veneer projects. A pint size bottle of Heat Lock will cover approximately 32 square feet of veneer.
Do you have any local distributors for Heat Lock?
At this time, VeneerSupplies.com and Highland Hardware are the only distributors of Heat Lock iron-on veneer adhesive. We are looking for additional distributors. Please contact us for further information.
Does the color of the adhesive show through on lighter wood species like maple?
Due to the thick consistency of Heat Lock, bleed-through is very unlikely so even lighter woods like sycamore and maple are not affected by the color of the adhesive.
What kind of substrate can I use for my panel?
Heat Lock will work with a variety of substrate materials such as wood, plywood, MDF and particle board. Make sure the substrate is clean and porous. Some substrates can be made more porous by scuff sanding with 100 grit sandpaper. You can test the porosity of the substrate by placing a few drops of water on the substrate. If the water is not absorbed by the substrate within 10 seconds, you may find that the Heat Lock glue will not work.
When I applied the adhesive, my veneer started to curl up. What should I do?
Before applying Heat Lock, its best to tape down the edges of the veneer to a piece of cardboard. Leave the veneer taped down until the glue is set and the panel is ready to be heated.
What kind of finish can I use with Heat Lock and how soon can I use the panel after it has been veneered?
It's best to let the adhesive fully harden before staining/finishing the veneered surface. This normally takes a few hours. Since Heat Lock cures hard, practically any non-water based stain or finish can be applied.
Can I use a waterbased stain and/or topcoat with Heat Lock?
If the bond is strong between the substrate and veneer. A waterbased finish should be no problem. Once the Heat Lock glue is dry, water will not affect the bond strength. However, if the bond is not adequate (caused by lack of glue or heat), a waterbased finish can cause bubbling since wood cells expand with water. If you must use a waterbased finish, allow the panel to cool down from the ironing process and then spritz the entire project with water. If the bond is poor, the water will cause any loose or poorly adhered areas to bubble up. You can reheat the panel (within 24 hours of application) and get the glue to re-stick and the bubbles to disappear.
My veneered panel has some bubbled areas on it. What should I do?
Bubbles are caused by poor adhesion between the veneer and the substrate. This often occurs when an inadequate amount of adhesive is used on the veneer and substrate. To avoid this, it is highly recommended that an inexpensive, dedicated glue roller is used to apply the adhesive. Bubbles can also be caused by lack of heat from the iron. It is important to work slowly and methodically when applying the heat to the veneered panel.
To fix a problem area, cut a fine slit into the bubble and inject a bit of Heat Lock inside. Allow it to set up for several minutes and then iron down the imperfection. If your panel already has a finish applied, you wont be able to use heat to re-activate the bond. After 24 hours, the cross linkers in Heat Lock have set up and are much less re-activatable with heat. In this case, use this process to flatten the bubbles:
After my project is veneered with Heat Lock, can I reactivate the glue area to remove a veneer?
The cross polymers in Heat Lock (which are what makes it so durable) start to set up within a few hours after the veneered panel has dried. Once this happens, the glue is not nearly as re-activatable with heat. While I suspect a clothes iron can create enough heat to allow removal, I doubt most pieces of veneer could withstand that much intense heat and would not come off cleanly.
Can I use Heat Lock to bond PVC edgebanding?
Heat Lock only works on porous surfaces. Since PVC is not porous, it will not work.
Can I use the Heat Lock glue in a heated dry press?
Yes. If you have access to this type of press, Heat Lock can be used. We have been told by Heat Lock users that 150-180° for seven minutes works very well.
Is Heat Lock freeze/thaw stable?
This adhesive is not usable if it is allowed to freeze. Once frozen, it turns to a solid lump of very hard rubber.
Can I remove a veneer applied with Heat Lock and apply another coat of this adhesive for a replacement veneer?
Like all water based adhesives, Heat Lock requires a porous surface to make a bond. You will need to sand off the old veneer and the layer of Heat Lock. The substrate surface must be porous (I can't stress this enough) so this may require very coarse sanding to get below the surface of the first coat of adhesive.
Review by Gordon Hodson
We had an old kitchen table that was in sorry condition and decided it would be a fun "family" project to remove the old veneer and glue on a new sheet. I found the Heat Lock because it was mentioned on a woodworking forum where another user said it was great for repairs. We bought a gallon because I thought a pint would not be enough but a pint would have been enough for our table which was 3'x4'. The veneer we used was paper backed walnut that we also got from this company.
The preparation was the hardest part since we had to do a lot of coarse sanding to get the old veneer and glue layer removed. Applying the Heatlock glue and getting the veneer ready was easy and it just took a bit of time and effort to get the iron around the whole surface but for sure the bond is as strong as I could hope for. Now we just need to put polyurethane on top. Even though this website does not sell polyurethane, the owner of the website was very helpful in sharing his thoughts about applying the poly. I thought that was pretty cool of him and I am looking forward to finishing the project this weekend.
Review by Jim Philips
This Better Bond Heat Lock veneer glue arrived within just a few days of ordering and it works like a charm on small projects. It's not messy like hide glue can get and locks down veneer quickly. I have not had any problems with rolls or bubbles after application. This is an "iron-on" adhesive. I apply two layers to the veneer and substrate with a roller...let it dry for 30 minutes and iron away, then trim the edges. It is not suitable for all veneer applications, but this website does a superb job in identifying the adhesives best suited for your project. Good luck!
Review by Gary Hasty
I recently purchased a gallon of Heatlock Veneer adhesive. I have always used regular contact cement to veneer my speaker projects. I have been considering trying iron on veneering and decided that trying Heat Lock was the correct move. I found that the heat lock adhesive was really straight forward and pretty easy to apply,dry then iron. It is more forgiving than contact cement when you get it positioned wrong. I also found that I had a couple of loose edges after ironing a piece. In that case, I just opened the edge up some with a toothpick and applied some glue into the space. I removedd the toothpick, wiped off excess then ironed immediately. That sealed the couple of edge spots that I had that failed to get adequate glue on. As I said, much more forgiving than contact cement. I highly recommend this product.
Review by Matt Douthit
Performance exceeded my already high expectations. I used Heat Lock and paper-backed Ash veneer on a domed chest and I got perfect results. I had no prior veneer experience and everything went smoothly for me. Take your time, use a liberal amount of heat and you will have no problems. Really AWESOME product. Glue roller worked nicely also. My only regret is I bought a pint rather than a gallon.
Review by Josh A.
As a novice I approached the initial veneer projects with a bit of trepidation! Especially after a few failed attempts using yellow glue, I researched well the glue availability and found this site and Better Bond. After six months of using Better Bond Heat Lock I can attest to not only its convenience and ease of application, but to its holding power after a few months. It is fast and economical. For those instances where the vacuum press is not an option, I find I am using it more and more.
The products I have bought from this site have arrived in good condition, shipping is always fast and excellent follow up to questions about the use of the products.
Review by Jeff Maxim
After reading all the reviews, and a little suspicious they may have been written by the manufacturer, I can say Heat Lock lives up to its claims. I had to apply an emergency veneer on the face of a 9' wide curved-front reception desk. I had used 1/4" mahogany ply for the face, which I sanded through (!!!) and from now on I will forgo the ply with difficult corner miters and veneer with Heat Lock instead.
Tips I picked up:
- I poured then troweled out the glue (thick and viscous) with a 4" knife with 1/8" x 1/8" square knotches then rolled to proper thickness with Joe's roller (essential - get it).
- Wet day in dry Colorado and it took an hour to set up in a warm shop.
- Dry to the touch does not mean inactive. I set the veneer on the substrate and they stuck before ironing. Had to rip it off, sponge down built-up glue, wait for that to dry, and get a new piece of veneer. Bummer, but, the fact that I could salvage it is a plus for Heat Lock! Also I got a sense of the adhesion, which was strong.
I recommend putting a paper barrier (I used rolled paper masking) between veneer and substrate for registration and being careful to pull the paper well ahead of the iron. The bond felt solid and strong instantly. The glue did not gum up trimming tools. I'll be using the product from now on.
[Note from Joe: I would never (EVER!) write reviews for my own products.]
Review by John M
Does just as the name says. Near effortless. Nice tight seams and you can stain right after you have finished veneering. I went straight from bottle to substrate to roller. No waste.
Review by Rick Godfrey
HeatLock = great product! Much easier to work with and much stronger than contact cement. Read the tips section, apply 2 even coats like paint, iron hot enough you can't hold your hand onto the wood etc... I didn't use wood veneer in my projects much but I do now. Really like the results. Thank you Christine and Joe
Review by Michael Lange
I began using this product about 5 years ago. Since then I have not had a piece of face edging wood veneer on cabinets or shelving even hint of delaminating. Once you iron on your strip of face veneer it is there forever. It has also been a solution to small curved projects(up to perhaps 8 sq ft)which would not be able to stand the pressure of vacum. By the way I am a professional cabinet maker and have made my living as such since 1976. I strongly recommend you try this product, you will never use hotmelt iron on edging again!
Review by Randy Tahnu
I can't begin to explain how easy it was to use this glue. I admit to knowing very little about veneering and only bought this glue to try out with some old veneer I bought many, many years ago. It worked great on the first try. The panel was veneered and set into a small box I made for my wife. Overall, I think this is the best product for part time woodworkers. If I can make this product work, anyone can!
Review by Bob Joitfer
I'm so happy to write a review for Heatlock because Im so happy to have found a product that works exactly as it says it will. Im new to veneering and I didnt have the money or time to put into a vacuum press since I probably wont get a chance to veneer too many projects. I just wanted to veneer a small curved lid for a treasure chest that I built for my wife. I thought the veneering part of the project would be something I would regret but instead it was my favorite part.
I started by softening the veneer and then I followed the website instructions. The whole lid was completed in about 20 minutes and the project was varnished later that evening. The next day, my wife was all smiles as she ran her fingers across the veneered top which was birds eye maple. It was beautiful and Joe's Heatlock glue is what made it happen.
Highly, highly, highly recommended.
Review by Nolan Albrecht
Wow! After trying out a pint of this glue for a big project that I'm doing for a neighbor, I decided to buy two gallons. I know this is a new product for Joe to offer (I think he invented it) so I wanted to test it myself so I did a 5 panels, each 1 square foot. I tortured the bejesus out of each panel. I cooked one in the oven, drowned one in water, doused one with lacquer thinner, coated one with every chemical I could find in the shed, and the last panel I tortured with a chisel and my fingernail to see if I could pull the veneer off the panel. I consider this a most thorough test.
It passed! In fact it passed with flying colors. I couldn't get the veneer to come off the panel no matter what I tried. This is great stuff and I'm sure it will become a very popular product. Congrats to Joe for creating and offering a product that may change the way we all do veneer projects.
Review by Brad N.
Heat Lock does indeed work as described. I just used up my second pint of it and have had flawless panels after nearly every shot. Just for fun my wife scroll saws holiday ornaments and we decided to veneer a few boards before she takes them to the saw. We adhered birds eye maple to 1/2" thick solid walnut and the results were outstanding. VERY NICE PRODUCT!
Review by Auggie Jones
Worked perfectly on a desk top I did for my daughter. We used quilted makore and contact cement at first. Two days later - bubbles every where. Switched to this glue - perfection and the job is done! Now on to my next big project... veneered toy chests for the grand kids.
Review by David Nadolski
First time veneering a piece of non-adhesive backed veneer. Was a nice curley maple veneer on a hardwood substrate. Used veneer softner to first soften the wood, the applied heat-lock as instructions suggested...Great results, veneered the 23" diameter table top w/o a vacuum pump. Any unbonded areas...was able to reheat those sections and flatten with an iron. Great product.
Review by Michael Midiar
I bought this glue for a small project I was building for a friend. I didnt want to spend the time and money on a vacuum press so this glue seemed perfect. Some practicing was needed to learn the nuances of the glue but it didnt take long and I suspect most people would get a good job without any fuss. The nice part is that you can test the veneer (with water) and then just reheat any areas that didnt stick properly. Once the project was finished I decided to buy some extra veneer from Joe and made a few projects for myself. I'd recommend getting the glue roller that is offered on this site and some veneer softener too.
Review by D. Michael Korman
It works as advertised and saved me a bundle of money. I dont have a vacuum press and I can not justify the cost of a press when I only need 1 or 2 veneers each year. I used this glue on walnut burl and it took just a few minutes of ironing to get the veneer glued down to the board. I'm very happy with this product. It is expensive but worth it.
Review by Kevin Smee
Joe, I was a little apprehensive with my first veneering project (a snare drum shell) and couldn't have been happier with your products. I bought a quilted maple veneer and used the Heat Lock adhesive to attach it. I was a little skeptical to try a product that you use a clothing iron to activate, but boy did it work well. I couldn't justify a vacuum press and the Heat Lock adhesive bonded really well. The Snare drum is done now and has gotten rave reviews on two drumming forums for it's wild quilted maple figure. Your web site was full of helpful information that made this project a success. Thanks again, Kevin
Review by Al Wooley
I would like to make a big positive feedback for this product for paper backed veneer as well as using this Heat Lock for unbacked veneer as well.
We produce custom speaker cabinets on a low volume and hand crafted look is very important to us , we control the quality of our products and this glue works great.
The thickness of the glue seals the end grain of MDF very very good plus bending wrapping veneer around a speaker cabinet with a radius of 3/4" this glue bonds very good.
The big plus is no fumes and if you have to stop and walk away and come back to the job in a hr, just turn the iron back on and continue were you left off.
Well done in putting out a product that first time veneer users can feel at easy using.
Just apply. Let both the veneer and your speaker cabinet dry 100%.
Thanks again great product I see a lot of DIY speaker builders using this product.
Review by Gabe Smith
I'd like to add an additional 5 star review to the growing list on the BetterBond Heat-Lock. I veneered a set of 4 ft tall Adire 281's DIY speakers and the matching large center channel a few weeks ago. This is a great adhesive for a beginner who has never veneered or pro who needs a strong, quick and easy bond. I am really glad I found this glue. This stuff worked amazingly well.
I was reluctant to use contact cement because the largest pieces were 48"x18" and pretty unwieldy to handle. I've done a decent amount of woodworking but this was my first veneering project so I wanted a more forgiving glue. I was using a paperbacked Quartersawn Makore which is about $4/sq ft. Needless to say a messed up panel could get pretty expensive especially if I had to buy a new sheet. I started on the small panels following Joe's directions of using a glue roller (highly recommended) and taping down the veneer. I let the glue dry for about 20-30 minutes. The panels do not bond until you apply the iron then they STICK. I was very impressed with the bond. Once cooled the bond was good, once cured (3hrs) the bond was great. The large panels were no more complicated. I just needed more glue. The corners were also no problem. Just concentrate some more pressue from the iron on them. I trimmed with a razor knife
Again, buy the roller for any substantial veneering with this Heat-Lock. Keep the roller in a gallon size ziploc between panels.
The only thing I would change next time is to put it in a bottle for easier application. I globbed it on from the jug and it was a little hard to gauge how much and slightly messy but even then it was no big deal. Water clean up was a piece of cake. How bout an applicator nozzle for the gallon bottle Joe? Great product, thanks again!
(Follow up from Joe: That's a great idea. I will check into it.)
Review by Herbert Tolaurti
I'm more than thrilled with this glue. I did some panels over the weekend for a small box and they all turned out very nicely. I didnt follow the instructions on the first panel and had some troubles. I then emailed Joe about it and got a very quick and friendly response. After I followed Joe's instructions (which are clearly written on the instruction sheet that comes with the glue) I had no problems at all. The veneer was walnut burl and the substrate was plywood.
Again, I'm very satisfied with everything Joe provided.
Review by Jason Homohlai
My father (a professional cabinet maker) is not one to try new things so I bought him a gallon of Heatlock and first tried it out myself. Within a half hour I produced a panel to show him. For the rest of the afternoon, the panel sat on a shelf in plain sight of the workbenches in the shop where his shop helpers spent the day checking it out. After work, everyone in the shop had formed a circle around my workbench as I showed them how easy it was. Non of us got out of the shop until well after dinner time. We were busy using up a full gallon by the day's end.
So today, I'm ordering 5 more gallons. We are very excited to find a great glue like this. It really works well. Everyone a Sunhill Cabinetry will have a gallon to take keep at their bench.
Review by Joseph Billanowski
Finally, some one with the sense to offer a product that speaker builders can really use! I've built a couple dozen speakers over the last few years and have always found that the veneering part is the hardest to do. I've tried vacuum presses, weights, clamps, and every other means to veneer my boxes and there is always something that causes anguish (glue bubbles, lifted edges, etc).
BUT... this adhesive makes life much easier. I veneered a pair of decent size speakers over the weekend with outstanding results. The veneer was so much easier to manipulate and the surface was smooth and solid.
I highly recommend this to any DIY speaker building hobbyists.