How to Repair Veneer Furniture

By Dan Keen

Repairing damaged veneered furniture can be fairly simple and economical for the homeowner who likes to fix his own furniture. Veneer repair damage can take the form of buckled, peeling and missing veneer. However, before embarking on repair, be sure the piece you want to restore is not a valuable antique, which would be devalued under a layman's personal repair.

Cut a piece of veneer approximately to size, allowing a little extra all around. The overhang will be trimmed off after the veneer has been bonded in place. If a joint is necessary or you are making a so-called "matched face," trim the joining edges very accurately, and fasten them temporarily together with regular veneer tape or any self-adhering tape applied to the face side. The veneer sheet and the furniture must be perfectly clean and smooth. The panel wall, to which the veneer will be glued, must be free of grease, wax and oils. Thoroughly stir veneer glue, and apply with an inexpensive clean brush. Don't brush back and forth. Flow the glue on in a smooth uniform coat. Let the glue dry, which should usually take about an hour. Reapply another coat of glue before making the bond, and then let sit for 30 minutes. This contact glue grips instantly when you place two glued surfaces together, so you won't be able to slide or shift the wood around.

Repairing blisters on a veneered panel can be done by slitting the blister near its center with a sharp, thin knife blade. Press one half of the blister down, while introducing quick-setting, heat-sensitive glue under the other half with a knife blade. There is a glue injector on the market you may want to invest in for larger jobs. Wet the blister with water, press it down with a flat iron, and heat to the usual temperature for pressing clothes. The water softens the veneer, and the warmth of the flat iron re-melts the now-chilled glue. Cover the blister with wax paper and apply a weight for few minutes.

Repair buckled veneer sheets by first sprinkling each buckled sheet lightly with water a day before you begin the repair. The best way to prevent over-wetting is to dip a whisk broom in a pail of water and flip the water on the veneer. One or two flips of the wrist will sprinkle all the water you should apply. Lay the moistened sheet on a flat surface. Sandwich newspaper between veneer sheets. Place a flat panel on top and add even weights to the panel. Leave the weights on for 24 hours.

Repair loose edges by introducing a little veneer glue under the veneer with a knife blade. Then, clamp the edges in a press or with heavy weights. Loose edges can result from repair work where too little glue was used or too long a time took place between pressing and spreading the glue.

Repairing warped panels, which may be caused by unbalanced construction, unseasoned wood, improper stacking after removal from a press, a glue setting that was too damp or too cool, usually cannot be repaired.

About the Author

Dan Keen is the publisher and editor of a county newspaper in New Jersey. For over 30 years he has written books and magazine articles for such publishers as McGraw-Hill. Keen holds a degree in electronics, was chief engineer for two radio stations and taught computer science at Stockton State College.