5.30.2013

How to Replace Broken/Chipped Veneer

I'm going to admit upfront that this project almost sent me over the edge. I have a bad habit of looking at a sad, broken piece of furniture and saying "Oh, I can fix that." And thus is the case with this piece. A $30 flea market find, this Meridan House by Drexel Bachelors Chest was too cute to pass up. Broken veneer, swollen wood, stuck drawers and chunks of wood missing from the legs and all...it was mine. And since it's mahogany, I was hoping it wasn't too far gone that I would have to paint it instead of refinishing.






Here's a close up of the chipped veneer.


And here's why I was so frustrated.


This is the only large veneer stripping I can get in the Waco area. It's red oak, and as you may know, red oak doesn't stain very well. A fact I wasn't even thinking of when I started this project, since it had been so long since I tried to stain oak. If you are lucky enough to be able to salvage some veneer from somewhere you won't notice on your piece, then use that.

I started by making sure my chips weren't straight across against the grain, or too jagged. You can clean them up with a utility knife to make a pattern that's easy to trace and cut out. Just like in plastic surgery, you zig-zag a scar to break it up so the eye isn't automatically drawn to it. I checked my edges and glued down anything that was lifting.






Next, I took a piece of painters tape and laid it over the chip. I used my nail to trace the broken line, really getting in there for an exact imprint. Then I used my pencil to trace that line.



Next, I laid the tape on the veneer strip, and cut. If you are using this product or anything else with a grain, place your tape across the piece in a way that will match your grain direction on the furniture. (I didn't on the first one, and you will see where I went wrong.)



I checked it for fit, then took a hot iron to it. Since this has an adhesive already built in, it just needs to be heated up enough to melt it. The setting was on cotton-high. I used a piece of tin foil to protect my patch from the iron. (For salvaged veneer, use Gorilla Wood Glue, or hide glue for the best adhesion. You don't need much...a thin layer on the patch and on the area to be glued.)



See the wood grain going the wrong way? Once it was cool, I used scissors to trim most of the excess, then a razor knife to get in close. It doesn't have to be perfect because a light grit sand paper will file it down nicely.


This is where I biult up its legs. I used the JB Weld that I used to fix my chipped lamps.




Then I sanded everything down.




And then I stained. Don't let people convince you that you need expensive wood conditioners when stripping and staining. Wiping it down with water will open the wood to accept stain just as well. But, I was freaking out when I put the stain on and didn't get a picture, and this is why.


This is how the patch took stain, and the top of the dresser after stain. You can do a couple of things here. What I did was dab the darker, thicker stain that collects on the lid of the stain can until it matched. I also tried stainable wood filler on one little piece, letting it dry then sanding it down as smooth as it will get. The thing about stainable wood filler...Lies! All lies. It stains about as well as the oak stripping. So I guess the moral is, when using a patch that isn't from the original veneer (or at least the same type of wood), go darker.





Here I am 98% done. I still have to poly the drawers and get the hardware back on. The color is Red Mahogany by Minwax. First 2 are the close up of my patches.




UPDATE: Thank you all so much for the sweet comments on my little dresser! Here's an update of the completed piece.


                                     





I hope you enjoyed this post. Y'all come back soon!

Cheers!
Jodi




32 comments:

  1. man....that looks like to much work for me but you did a great job, I'm impressed. I don't have the patience for that!

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    1. Haha! Thank you. Yeah, this one was a challenge and I almost lost my patience a few times. But I'm happy I stuck with it.

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  2. I take my hat off to you! I'm working on a "strip down to bare wood and re-stain" project also and I'm not enjoying it! I don't mind striping the top of something, but getting into all the nooks and crannies is horrible! Plus, dealing with veneer and trying to NOT sand through it on the edges. Yuck! You've don't beautifully so far.

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    1. Thank you so much! Yeah, the sanding of the edges was a delicate process for sure. You have some amazing work going on, yourself! Bravo.

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    2. Most of the time the original finish can be restored and it is a lot easier than doing all that sanding. There is a product called "Kramer's Best Antique Improver" that will do the job. You can find it in some antique malls or order it from their website. (I don't know if it's ok to post a link here but can just do a web search for it.)

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  3. I'm SOOOOOOO happy I ran across this post from MMS!!! I have 2 pieces that have missing veneer and have debated for YEARS how to go about this! Perfect! I also use the 'water' to raise grain. Works every time!

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    1. Camille, you just made my month! I'm so happy this helped someone, and please share your project with me when you get around to it. I'd love to see it!

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  4. Hi, I'm visiting from The Shabby Nest. I am SO glad you did not trash this beautiful solid wood piece by painting it! That always makes me cringe when I see quality furniture treated like Chinese MDF! Your restoration is great, I honestly cannot tell looking at the final photo that any patching of veneer and restoration of the foot (or feet) was done at all. You done good! You know, if this piece is still around 300 years from now it could be a priceless antique, and those veneer patches you did could be replaced with the latest techniques and technology, and the piece might be worth some astronomical price like I sometimes see on Antiques Roadshow on PBS! I'm sure the first colonists here in the USA didn't think 300 years ago that some of their homemade furniture would be worth small fortunes to collectors today, so ya never know :)

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    1. Lol! Your comment made me giggle. It breaks my heart as well when I see these girls paint antique furniture. When I first started reading Pinterest, I read one where a girl painted an ornate hutch from probably around the early 1800's. I almost fell out of my chair. Shabby chic needs to die. Thanks for visiting!

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    2. You are one brave woman making that statement but you're right! That Shabby chic has been taken too far to the extreme and people are ruining potentially valuable furniture (if they would just have a little patience and pass the piece down in the family for a few hundred years, LOL) by painting it to make it look new and then "shabbifying" it by taking sandpaper and wet rags to the finish to make it look old. I've added you to my favorites. BTW, I love the name of your blog and your home - it's so full of hope. I think I'll be learning a lot by going through your prior posts. And thanks for visiting my little blog.

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    3. Thank you so much, Jan. Welcome to my blog. Any questions, just holler!

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    4. Thank you both for your opinion on "shabby chic" abuse of antiques! I was beginning to think I was all alone out there, haha! I'm not against painting cheap furniture to get more use out of it, but why spend the time to put a nice paint job on something and then ruin it and make it look icky? It was ugly to begin with, save the effort and just use ugly filthy furniture! I have an old buffet that is missing a couple of pieces of veneer, and really want to restore it because it could be so beautiful. I originally thought I'd paint it, but it just doesn't feel right. One thing I know for sure is that it will NOT be beaten and bruised and abused for a fad. lol!

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  5. Fantastic job! I have passed up on plenty of good priced furniture because of broken veneer! Now, I know how to repair it, thanks to you!!

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    1. That's sweet to say, Tammy. Thank you. I hope this serves you well.

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  6. That is awesome! I have an antique dresser that was my dad's and after moving it half a dozen times, it is looking pretty sad. Now I know how to fix it! Thank you so much :)

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    1. That is so nice! I do so hope you are able to fix your dads dresser.

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  7. Good to know! I have had veneer peel off before and I just tried gluing it back on. :)

    I love your blog background by the way!

    toddlindsey.com

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    1. Thank you sweetie! I love how your house is coming along. Looking good!

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  8. It looks beautiful. Great job.

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  9. Thanks for the post. I too have dressers that need new veneer and I wasn't sure how to proceed. Thanks!
    Belinda

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    1. Awesome, Belinda! I hope this helps. Thanks.

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  10. What a great tutorial - thank you so much for the tips!

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  11. Turned out amazing! Worth all the hard work! Thank you for sharing at Give Me The Goods!

    Dimples & Pig Tales

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  12. Beautiful piece Jodi. Could you please tell me exactly what product gave the chest the shiny glow. This of course goes over the stained wood. You mentioned Poly....urethane or something else?
    Thanks!

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    1. Thank you so much. It is a satin water based polyurethane from Minwax (in the blue can). I also wound up putting a coat of Minwax wax over that because I ran out before I could put a second coat.

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  13. love it! featuring you tomorrow night on the blog and you were our random ad space winner!

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  14. So glad I found this blog. Been working mostly trail and error fixing old furniture for 30 years or more. Just left a site where he bragged that if veneer is loose- it goes, gets Bondo-ed and painted. Almost cried and wanted to smack him. I occsionally argue with my daughter when she wants to paint a dresser. Only if its common pine and nothing design special gets painted at her house either or else! Lol Thank you for centering me again. I'm not alone.

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    1. Lol. Well, I've never been one to give up so easily. There is usually a way to save a piece if you're hell bent on making as close to original as possible. Glad you found me. :)

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  15. I inherited my nana's waterfall dresser and chest of drawers, and there's chipped veneer on some of the drawers. I searched the internets for what to do with these pieces, do I paint? Do I refinish? Thank you for posting this! I am now confident that replacement veneer is going to work and this will be my winter project.

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  16. Hardstikke goed is Dutch for a very good Job...

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