|Posted on July 25, 2012 at 10:45 AM|
Has this ever happened to you? You're out garage sale-ing one day, and you stumble upon a piece of furniture that you love.
Perhaps something like this dresser:
You love the piece. It's got lines that you love. It speaks to you on some level and it's a price you're willing to pay. However, it may have some issues.
Take a closer look:
The veneer is warped and stained and cracked. See the upper right corner of the front green panel?
This is what it really looked like:
See how it's warped away from the "nails" (?!) that held it in place? The warping made the rest of the front panel look like this:
Despite her issues, this lovely piece CAN be saved. Repairing warped veneer is not a difficult process. You'll have to decide if it's worth the effort. You can see in the above pictures, that my veneer has some heft to it. This made it easier to repair. Some veneers are paper thin, though, and if that's the case, it's easier to scrape it off and apply new veneer if you plan to keep a wood look to your piece.
If you are going to be painting the piece, it may be easier to simply remove the old veneer and cut a new top then to try to fix the old veneer, but that's another post for another day.
I knew I'd be painting this dresser, but I wanted to keep the original veneer because there is some beautiful crackling in the paint on the top of this dresser that no amount of crackling medium can replicate. I wanted to keep that if I could.My entire dresser top had issues. I didn't have enough clamps to do the whole piece at once, so I did the gluing in sections.
Here are the basic steps:
Inject With Glue
I purchased a syringe and needle from the local farm supply store.
I found mine by the super strong rubberbands they use to castrate the cows. I am not even joking.
If you have large areas to be glued, be sure to get a long needle to extend your reach.
See those dents in the wood to the left of the red circle, under the words? You can also see one on the bottom right of the picture, inside the circle. I was using some spring clamps to hold the veneer down and got these "teeth" marks. A piece of wood or thick cardboard between the clamp and the furniture can protect your surface, hence the board you see in the collage picture above.
Start in the middle of the piece of furniture and work your way out towards the edges.
It gives you more options for reaching the part you want to glue down.
How are you going to reach the middle if you glue down all your edges first?
You may need to lift up a section that is currently glued down to reach a section that's not. Since you're already gluing things, you might as well get in and get it down good and tight while you can.
When you are gluing along the edges, gently lift the veneer and inject the glue.
You don't need a ton of glue or you'll spend a lot of time wiping up what is oozing out. Look above to see what I mean. A damp cloth takes care of the drips.
You do need the top to be weighted as the piece dries. I used some weights and some food storage cans to hold down the veneer in the middle of the dresser where my clamps couldn't reach.
Once the glue is dry, the veneer will lay flat again.
This dresser was kept in a house that had too much humidity in it. It caused the pieces to warp and because the front panel was only held on by nails, the wood panel warped away from the drawer front and pulled off the nails that was "holding" the panel on.
Here's what happened when I started to "fix" the front panel.
I seriously thought about leaving it off at this point. I was a month or two into the repairs and I spent a couple of days deciding, in fact. The fact that the top of the dresser bumps out to line up over this panel had me trying to fix it, though. It would have bugged me if I'd given up and left it off.
Besides, I have plans for this panel that I'll show you in an upcoming post.
I glued the board and then used my clamps to pull the board back into place. I put in a lot of screws through the back to hold it on. I made sure to turn the screws very slowly, as I didn't want to break it as it moved back into place.
The panel on both drawers (the part on the right of the cracks) broke off, so I had to do this twice. It's nice and tight now and ready for my next step.
Fill with Wood Putty
Once you have the veneer glued down, you need to fill any gaps with wood putty. Originally, I wanted to keep all the cracks in this piece and have a highly distressed dresser. However, after all my effort to fix the veneer, I decided that I didn't want the more obvious cracks to show.
When I fill with wood putty, I prefer to use my finger. I know there are more sophisticated tools out there. I own them all and I've tried them all. I just always go back to using my finger. Smoosh (technical term) the wood putty into the crack. For large cracks, like on the front panel, I had to put a lot of putty in them.
For the top of the dresser, where I didn't want to do a lot of sanding and destroy the patina in the old paint, I used a wet rag to wipe off the excess putty on the edges of the crack. This takes some of the putty out of the crack. If you want a slight depression and a hint of the crack, you could leave this as is. You'll need to keep repeating this step, if you are going for smoother results. Just repeat the process a couple of times to get the crack filled and to minimize sanding.
Be sure to let the putty dry in between layers.
Anyone who has ever spackled a wall and then painted over the spackle, knows that the patched area takes the paint differently than the rest of the wall. The same is true with wood putty. To avoid the differences, you need to minimize the amount of putty to start with. Wiping off the excess will help keep the differences to a minimum.
Sand Until Smooth
If you wiped off the extra putty before it dried, you'll have minimal sanding to do.
On the drawer fronts, I had to sand because there was a little lip where the panel wouldn't pull back in place tight enough against the drawer. A palm sander worked well for the front, but I used a sponge sand pad for the top.
Again, I was trying to preserve some of the natural characteristics of the dresser.
The sanding sponges are cheap and I like how they work. You can buy them in different grits. I rinse mine out and let them dry between uses. I usually buy mine at Lowes or Home Depot that come a couple to a pack for a few bucks.
After I've sanded, I paint just the repaired areas with a few coats of primer before painting the whole piece. This allows the putty to soak up the primer, which is why you see the difference in the puttied area. It needs to soak in some paint/primer before you start painting. It will also let you see if you've been successful in covering the cracks. If not, add more putty and repeat the process until you get the desired results.
To recap, with some patience, a syringe, some wood glue, a few clamps or weights and you can restore the veneer on your furniture.
You can go from this: