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!!

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!!! 

Linking up to:

AKA Design
Tip Junkie handmade projects

The Shabby Nest
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  1. This turned out beautifully! It was definetely worth all the time! Love the color!

  2. Hi! I'm visiting from Frugal Friday! I love your goregous dresser. You did a fabulous job on it.

    {my simple messterpiece}

  3. Hi Carolyn! Thanks for stopping by and your sweet words. I clicked on your photo to see if you had a blog (etc) and I see you live in St. Charles. I live in O'fallon, MO. Small world!! : )

    1. Wow! That is amazing!! I'm so glad I found you. We need to stay in touch :)

  4. Great job! Now I will see old ugly yard sale furniture in a new light. Thanks! How Hot was your iron setting?

    1. Thanks Jessica, I'm glad I could help! I knew I was forgetting something in my post! I set my iron on cotton because I didn't have a numerical setting. I would recommend setting your iron between medium and high heat and adjust the heat as needed.

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. Lovely! Wish I knew how to "pin" this. Cashel1916@yahoo.com

    1. http://pinterest.com/about/goodies/

      try this link. It will show you how to get the "pin button" on your toolbar and you can use it to pin things you like from any webpage.

      Thanks for stopping by!!

  7. Just picked my daughter up a chipy veneered dresser on the roadside this weekend. Glad I saw this becuase I wasn't sure how I was going to attack it :/

  8. I snagged a freebie at a garage sale - an oldie but a goodie. I don't need the crappy veneer on so we started chipping it off in the spots it was shot. I have a plan for it........ so we will see. Yours turned out fantastic. Maybe I should get brave and use a color.


    1. Color is fun....plus, all of the cool kids are doing it! HAHA, jk! Seriously, you should use color!!!

  9. Your dresser turned out beautiful! This is a great tutorial to pass along. I have done it a few times with great success. It can still be a labor of love, but always so worth it in the end. You have done some truly beautiful pieces & I enjoy reading your blog. Visiting from TTJ weekend wrap up party.

    1. Thank you StaceyAnne for your sweet words! It really wasn't as hard as I expected it to be!From now on, chipped veneer won't scare me away from buying a piece of furniture.
      I'm glad you enjoy my blog : )

  10. So glad I found your blog! I saw this piece on Craigslist and happened to notice your watermark. I'm a blogger too... live up in Troy, MO. I'd post my site but don't want to get flagged as spam! :-)

  11. Why did you choose to not glaze? With all the added embellishments on the front wouldn't glaze or tinted wax bring them out? I dont mean to be critical I am just trying to learn:)

    1. Good question!
      I didn't glaze this piece because I liked the color. If I were to glaze, it would darken the paint color. Yes, glaze would bring out the embellishments but it would have taken away from the look and color I was going for.

  12. Beautiful dresser - great job! I have my eye on a piece at my local thrift store with some veneer issues, now I know I have a chance to fix it. My question is, if you take the veneer off of one drawer (or door) - does it match if you don't remove from another on the same piece?

  13. Hey just tried this out! It showed up on Pinterest in the nick of time. LOL