June 15, 2012

How to Remove Chipped Veneer

I bought a dresser that had a few pieces of veneer missing. Since the areas were small I planned on using wood filler to hide the blemishes. WRONG!

see the missing veneer on the bottom?

After searching online for ways to remove veneer I  jumped head first into this project.  I work better that way.

Not only was there missing veneer there was also warped/bubbly veneer on the bottom drawer. Unfortunately, it wasn't noticeable until I painted.

These are the steps I followed:
What you need:
  • a damp cloth
  • a bowl with water
  • an iron
  • putty knife, chisel
  • hammer
  • eye protection, gloves
The secret to getting veneer to come off, without scraping your life away, is to get the glue (which holds veneer in place) hot enough so the veneer with pull away from the wood.

To do just that,  I put a damp cloth on the wood, and set the iron on top. At first, I moved the iron around and kept it moving. That method worked fine but I found leaving the iron in one spot (for about 15 to 20 seconds) worked even better.  I would recommend setting your iron between medium and high and adjust as needed.  

Every once in a while, I would dip my rag into the bowl of water and wring it out. If there isn't enough moisture you will have a hard time scrapping and this is when frustration sets in!

After I left the iron on the cloth for a while I was able to use my scrapper and remove the veneer. I started with a piece that was warped/bubbly and worked in random sections. If I had a hard time removing a particular piece I would move to another piece. Once I got all of the veneer off I sanded the drawer down until it was smooth.

Overall, it took about 2 hours to do the bottom drawer. The next day I worked on the bottom lip and that took about 45 minutes.

I thought the paint might melt a little under the iron but I didn't have any problems with that.

update as of 8/18/12
Each type of veneer is different. The one on the dresser above was easy to use with just a putty knife. I have worked on other dressers since I did this post and found using a hammer to hit the butt end of the putty knife (like a chisel) will help you with stubborn pieces. It also saves a little bit of time. Just be careful not to dig into the wood or leave any dents. Also feel free to use a larger putty knife...the one in the picture above is small because that is what I had on hand.

no more chippy veneer!!


***DISCLAIMER***
Do this at your own risk!
Remember, you are working with a hot iron and the rag becomes hot too. BE CAREFUL!!
The veneer is thin layers and can cause splinters (I learned from experience)
Use protective eye wear and gloves
If you're wanting to do this to great-great grandma's dresser, that has been in the family for 800 years, try this on another piece of furniture first. 

Have fun!!! 



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