Wood veneer is made from thin, pliable pieces of wood cut from logs. Structurally sound dining tables frequently have wood veneer tops that start to peel or curl due to age, exposure to hot pots and spilled food and drinks. Instead of discarding the table, you can repair the veneer with simple tools and materials to restore the tabletop to its original finish.
Tools and Materials
You will need a box cutter or utility knife to cleanly and precisely cut around the damaged section of veneer. Use a toothpick, knitting needle or piece of stiff wire to carefully remove any crumbs or other debris beneath the damaged area before applying carpenter’s glue. You will also need an iron to heat and liquefy the glue between the veneer and table surface. Major veneer replacement requires vises to hold larger pieces in place. You will also need masking tape and parchment paper.
Minor Peeling Repair
After you remove the dirt beneath the peeling veneer, firmly press it in place and apply a medium hot iron to the table surface to liquefy the old glue. Be sure to use a dry iron as steam may mar the finish of the veneer. Once the section adheres, lay a heavy book on it and let it dry. If the adhesion fails, apply masking tape to the good veneer to protect it. Carefully lift the damaged section and apply a thin layer of carpenter’s glue to the table surface with a craft stick, putty knife or old table knife. Use it sparingly to prevent glue from seeping out the sides. Lay the veneer in place, cover the area with parchment paper then put a book on top to keep it in place while it dries.
If the veneer is splitting at the seams on the interior surface of the table, remove the debris underneath with a thin, sharp tool and blot it with the adhesive side of some masking tape to remove tiny particles. Mask the edges of the split with tape to protect the tabletop then spread carpenter’s glue underneath the edges of the split. Run your hand over the area to equally distribute the glue. When the adhesion is secure, remove the tape, wipe off any glue on the surface, place a book on top to weigh it down and let the area dry completely.
Major Veneer Repairs
If the peeling veneer on the table covers large areas, replacing the entire tabletop may be the most practical option. Carefully lift the veneer off the wood. Lightly sand the table surface to improve the adherence of the new veneer. Cover the edges of the tabletop with masking tape then apply glue to the surface. Place the new veneer on top and smooth it to remove any air bubbles. Use vises to keep it in place around the edges and weigh down the center with several heavy books. Let it cure for at least 24 hours. Check it periodically during the first few hours of drying and smooth out any air bubbles.
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