Step 2 of Table Makeover: Removing Damaged Veneer

7.26.2012


Ok, in this post, I want to show you how I successfully removed the damaged veneer on my table (horray!).

And...in case you don't know what I am hoping to eventually achieve with this project, see my inspiration pictures from this post.

Ya gotta love kind, helpful folks....like Dan, the wood-working expert that works at the Ace Hardware up the street from me. He is awesome and has given me some great advice and encouragement for this project, especially regarding the damaged veneer.

So, after talking with him, I did decide to completely remove the two center sections which were damaged (shown below), and replace the veneer on those planks entirely (rather than attempt a smaller patch, which would be a bit of an eye sore right in the center of my lovely farm table).

Dan the expert assured me that it will not only look better in the long run, but that it really wasn't that hard to remove and replace the veneer. [He also gave me permission to call him anytime mid-project for help, which is awesome].

Before I started removing the damaged sections, I went ahead and ordered a 2' x 8' piece of knotty pine veneer (for a little under $30), which should arrive any day now.

Ok, now for the educational part (should you ever attempt a similar project):

How to Remove Damaged Wood Veneer

1. Prepare all Materials.

You'll need: an iron (preferably one you don't care much about), a couple of thick old rags, a metal putty knife, a hammer or rubber mallet (not shown, and not actually used all that much), and a bucket with water. Removing veneer from an antique (which would have been glued down with something called hide glue) is actually a lot easier than removing veneer from a more modern-built piece of furniture, but either way, moisture and heat is the only way to do it.

2. Apply Moisture
Completely saturate your old rags in the water, then squeeze enough water out so they are not sopping and dripping, but are still pretty wet. Lay them on the wood sections you will be working on to begin wetting and softening the surface. The wetter the wood veneer is, the easier this whole process will be. The only tricky part for me was to make SURE the veneer on the other sides of the damaged planks did NOT get wet, since I certainly did not want to replace those sections too!

3. Apply Heat
Lay your hot iron directly (AND CAREFULLY) onto the wet rag, and move your hand away in case it steams like crazy (mine wasn't too scary, but I am sure each iron is different from the next).
Leave the iron on the rag for at least 30-45 seconds, maybe longer, depending on how wet the rag is.


4. Start Scraping!

Remove iron and wet rag, and begin scraping up the veneer in that area with the putty knife. From time to time, I was able to lightly tap the hammer to the end of the scraper (pushed against the veneer) and pull up some larger sections in one go, but most of the time, the veneer came up in thin strips and shredded pieces, not in large chunks.

This really is not a HARD job per say, just time consuming and a bit tedious. So be patient and keep at it, and eventually, you'll get the veneer up.


Also, the wetter the veneer is, the easier it will come up once you apply the heat.

I found that leaving the wet rags on the veneer even when I wasn't working on it made it easier to remove once I returned to do more scraping.

Altogether, I would estimate that I worked for about 4-5 hours on this entire section, a bit here and a bit there, until it was done--I split it up over two days, again, because I do have a family to care for, and laundry to do, etc...plus, it's just NOT that fun to sit in your garage on a 90 degree day, steaming and removing veneer for hours on end.
Next, I'll have to use wood filler to fill in all the little gouges in the particle board, then sand it down before I apply the new veneer. I have a couple of swollen areas on the particle board (mainly from the burn-through) and I need to figure out how to take care of those areas as well before I move on.

I'm pretty happy with my progress thus far, and the pace I've been keeping to get it done, little by little. Here is how my table looks so far:

That's it for now!  See you soon.

My Project Piggybank:
(running total)

Table and 6 Chairs..........................$100
Stripping Products and Materials....$38
New Veneer.......................................$30
Sanding paper & Wood Filler.............$ 7

Total Out of Pocket.................$175

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