Fixing wood veneer: 7 invaluable tips

August 26, 2015

Fine layers of decorative wood grain are often used to dress up unremarkable wood, but their delicacy means they must be treated with care. Follow these seven invaluable tips to keep your wood veneer looking lovely.

  1. If you have a piece of furniture with a veneer that's more than 3 millimetres (1/8 inch) thick, then you probably have an antique. This is a safe bet since back in those days veneers were hand sawn. Today, though, modern reproductions are made with much thinner machine-cut veneers. Repairing a piece of modern veneered furniture is definitely a DIY job, but actual antiques are better left to the experts.
  2. To test whether or not veneer is loose, tap it with a fingernail. If it makes a hollow sound, it's probably come loose. If it makes a dull thud, the chances are it is solidly stuck to the core stock.
  3. One way to deal with damaged veneer is to patch it. Prepare a patch of new veneer that covers the damage and matches the line of the surrounding grain. Hold the patch over the problem area and cut around it carefully, then pry out the old, damaged veneer. Scrape away any old glue and stick your patch in place.
  4. Repair very small holes in veneer with wood filler. Fill a hole so that the wood filler sits just a little bit above the rest of the surface. Once its hardened, rub it down with fine wet-and-dry sandpaper.
  5. If a patch of veneer is too thin for the hole it's filling, glue it to another piece, with the grain on top running at right angles to the grain on the bottom. For a perfect fit, sand the bottom piece before gluing.
  6. To flatten a veneer bubble, use a sharp razor or craft knife to make a slit in the direction of the grain, then use a glue injector to squirt glue beneath the veneer. Then, press the bubble flat, weighing it down with a brick or heavy book for at least 12 hours.
  7. If slitting and re-gluing doesn't remove a bubble, cover the area with aluminum foil and press with an iron set on low, applying heat for no more than 10 seconds at a time. Continue until the bubble flattens — but be sure that you check for scorching as you do so. To wrap up, clamp or weigh down your repair overnight.

Keep these seven invaluable tips in mind to keep your wood veneer looking lovely.

Fixing wood veneer: 7 invaluable tips
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