In my line of work, I constantly deal with veneer issues. Some pieces have veneer bubbles, others have veneer cracks and then some are missing large patches of veneer altogether. I have a piece sitting around the studio that has all of these issues and I’ve been putting off working on it. Cleaning it up would mean getting out the chisels, lots of scraping and being oh so careful not to damage the underneath surface in the process. While picking up a piece that my friend Trey from Greystone Antiques had just finished repairing, he noticed the patch of veneer on my piece. He said, “How do you plan to get that off?” to which I shyly replied “With my chisel?” You see, I consider him the guru of furniture repair in my neck of the woods, and always feel like bowing in his presence. He then proceeded to tell me a trick to removing veneer that worked like a charm, and today I’m passing that info on to you! So if you’ve got a veneer issue on your hands and need to get a clean start, this post has you covered. Let’s get started! — Barb
CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!
- old steam iron (I purchased mine at Goodwill)
- large putty knife
- orbital sander
- wood glue
Instructions for Removing Veneer
1. Lightly spritz the surface of the piece with water. Apply heat directly to the surface with the iron, and move back and forth, covering the entire area. This may take a few minutes to work, so keep applying heat. Note: The iron will become very gunky due to the finish on the wood. If you would like to avoid this, strip the veneer down and remove all of the old finish before applying heat. I figure I’ll save myself the stripping step and get another $2.00 iron when needed!
2. After 3 or 4 minutes, see if you can get the edge of your putty knife under the loose veneer. If not, reapply heat and try again.
3. When the surface has been heated and you can get your putty knife under it, gently lift the entire piece off. It should easily come off in one big piece!
4. When all of the veneer has been removed, sand the entire surface with the orbital sander to get it ready for either painting or new veneer.
Note: I also want to add here that if you are not removing chunks of veneer but have little veneer bubbles or ripples in your surface, you can repair them in similar fashion. Take an old towel that has been wet and rung out or a piece of wax paper and put it between the iron and the furniture surface. Apply heat in a back and forth motion until the bubbles have smoothed out. When the area is smooth to your liking, use another piece of wax paper and something heavy to put weight on that area for 24 hours, or you can use a block of wood and a clamp to apply pressure. If the bubble is large, you may have to split it (following the grain direction) with a craft knife and apply glue. Then, clamp or apply weight to the area as noted above. When the split area is completely dry, you can lightly sand and prep for the next process.
This really helpful article goes into extensive detail about several veneer processes.
I hope this helps you all conquer those tricky veneer issues!