Veneer is just thin wood – so don’t be afraid of it.
by Bob Flexner
from the November 2009 issue, #179
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.
For the step-by-step images and captions of the repair process, download the free PDF below.
Bob Flexner is the author of “Understanding Wood Finishing” and a contributing editor to Popular Woodworking.
Also in this issue: Megan Fitzpatrick’s LVL workbench (the “Gluebo”), a Shaker swing-handles carrier from John Wilson, “Turning for Furniture Makers” by Kevin Drake, a knockdown computer desk, a simplified Stickley bookcase and more. Click here to check out all the contents.
Here are some supplies and tools we find essential in our everyday work around the shop. We may receive a commission from sales referred by our links; however, we have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality.