Flexner on Finishing: The Thick & Thin of Veneer Repair


Veneer is just thin wood – so don’t be afraid of it.
By Bob Flexner
Pages: 66-68

From the November 2009 issue #179
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I love repairing old furniture – the older the better. I find repairing more challenging and satisfying than making new because someone else, or time and age, has set the parameters within which I have to work.

I’ve written several articles in Popular Woodworking on furniture repair, including “Regluing Doweled Chairs” in April 2007 (#161) and “Animal Hide Glue” in August 2007 (#163). Both articles are available free at popularwoodworking.com/finishing.

But I haven’t written on veneer, and lots of things can go wrong with veneer. For some reason many woodworkers, and even professional furniture restorers, have a fear of working with veneer (some shops even refuse to do it). I find this fear difficult to understand because veneer is just thin wood, subject to the same rules as thick wood.

Recently, I had the opportunity (joy, really) of replacing some missing veneer on one of the oldest pieces of furniture I’ve ever worked on– an early 18th-century George II bachelor’s chest with a hinged top that opens to a desk. The challenges were a little greater than usual, so I thought I’d show you how I dealt with them.

One aside before starting. After you’ve worked on a lot of old furniture, you become adept at spotting anomalies that indicate fakery or a “marriage” of two or more pieces of furniture. On this card table I saw nothing to make me question its authenticity.


From the November 2009 issue #179
Buy this issue now