A wood veneer, by its very nature, enhances the surface of a cheaper material. But it is prone to chipping, blistering and loose edges. With a craft knife, adhesive and a strip of new veneer, such as damage is straightforward to repair.
A This mahogany box, as the photograph above shows, was chipped and the veneer loose in places, yet it was possible to restore it to its former glory-Veneers have been used for centuries to give cheap surfaces a more expensive and attractive appearance.
Wood veneers are usually hardwoods such as mahogany, teak, oak and walnut. Veneer is more prone to damage than solid pieces of wood because it is thin and glued to another surface. Old or badly glued veneer often becomes loose and must be glued back in place before further damage occurs. Chipped veneer can be mended by cutting a replacement piece and gluing it in place
It is not difficult to mend chipped veneer, but if the piece of furniture is particularly valuable it is better to have it professionally restored.
Blisters form under the veneer where the glue fails to stick. An old piece of furniture is likely to be stuck with animal glue, which may only need to be heated to be re-stuck. Modern pieces will need to have fresh glue applied and PVA adhesive is suitable.
Heating the glue – You will need
- Domestic iron
- Clamp or weight
1. Lay a piece of thick cardboard over the blister. Move a hot iron slowly back and forward over the cardboard, to heat the glue beneath the veneer. Leave the cardboard in place and clamp or weight the blister for 24 hours. If the blister has not gone, proceed to the next method.
Re-gluing a blister
1. Following the grain line, slit blister down the middle. Using an artists’ brush, remove as much old glue and dirt as possible from under the blister.
2. Hold down one side of the blister to open the crack. Put adhesive into the blister using a cocktail stick. Hold the glued side down and do the same on the other. Remove excess glue with a damp cloth. Clamp or weight the blister for 24 hours.
If the edge of the veneer has started to come away, simply glue it back down. With care, hold the veneer away from the base and clean away as much old glue as possible. Apply the glue either with the nozzle of the adhesive container or a cocktail stick.
The new piece of veneer must match the surrounding grain as closely as possible and butt up exactly to the surrounding edges.
When buying veneer it is more important to match the pattern of the grain than the color, as wood stains can be used to correct the color. Many DIY shops and hardware stores sell veneer, or mail order suppliers can be found in woodwork and craft magazines.
Modern veneers are often too thin for the job, if so stick together a number of layers. Sand down the back of new veneer if it is too thick.
Mending chipped edges
1. Cut away any jagged edges on the remaining veneer using a craft knife. Scrape off any old glue from the base. Tape tracing paper over the damaged area and draw around the outline.
2. Turn tracing paper over and place on back of replacement veneer. Trace the outline on to veneer. Cut out using the craft knife. Glue in place. Clamp or weight the piece for 24 hours.
Replacing damaged areas
If the veneer is damaged in the body of the furniture, the procedure is similar to that given above. The replacement piece will be slightly bigger than the damaged area. The shape depends on the grain of the wood. If the wood has a straight line grain like larch, make a four sided shape slightly bigger than the damaged area. With a knotty grain such as walnut, make an irregular shape which will blend in more effectively. These shapes must be cut exactly to ensure a perfect fit.
I. Draw the shape on to a piece of tracing paper and transfer this to the new veneer as before. Cut out the replacement piece. Place this over the damaged area and using the craft knife, draw around it leaving a scratched outline of the shape. Take away the veneer template and cut around the shape on the furniture.
2. Gently remove any veneer within the shape by prising it away with a small chisel. Glue the new piece in place. Wipe off excess glue and clamp until dry.
Image: by Simon Howden