Partially removed veneer on dresser

Old 05-17-07, 06:08 AM
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Partially removed veneer on dresser

I have an antique dresser my mother purchased years ago with the intent of refinishing. It is veneer over wood. My mother removed the veneer from the dresser top where it was badly damaged and easy to remove. Then she partially removed the veneer down one side of the front of the dresser, but it was a very difficult task so she stopped -- and the dresser has been in that condition for at least 25 years. I would like to end up with a nicely stained medium tone dresser for my son, eventually. But I'm in a quandry -- should I continue to remove the remaining veneer, which is well attached, and risk that the underlying wood is nothing too remarkable; or should I feather the remaining veneer into the missing veneer (with a sander), strip/sand the remaining veneer to remove the current stain/varnish which is a little bubbly, and restain the whole thing; or should I try to repair the stripped veneer from the front of the dresser and strip/restain? Since I'm not expecting a museum piece when I'm done, I can live with a little imperfection but I don't want to invest a lot of time if the result will be no better than pine from the unfinished furniture store. Opinions?? Ideas??
Old 05-17-07, 03:36 PM
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The wood under veneer is rarely anything special, often a cheap dimensionally stable wood like poplar. It depends on what you want out of it, but you get a nice piece of furniture will take some work. Especially since some of the veneer has been removed. What kind of wood is the veneer??? Veneers are available in many types of wood(oak, cherry, walnut are common ones), and contact cement works well in gluing it on.
Heat guns are often helpful in removing old veneer, as well as old finishes, but fire is something to keep close in front of the mind, CAUTION.
There are DIY books at home/hardware stores with lots of helpful info. Hope this helps.
Old 06-02-07, 04:35 PM
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If you decide to continue removing it I would shy away from a heat gun unless you have a decent variable setting one to get just barely enough heat to soften the glue. Setting the dresser outside on a warm sunny day will help as well or a hair dryer can be used in place of a heat gun.

Once you get the glue softened up a bit try using a guitar string and getting under it and using it to saw your way through.

Never used this technique removing wood veneer but it's very prominent in the automotive field and I can't think of any reason it wouldn't work in this scenario.
Old 06-02-07, 07:12 PM
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Obviously there are right and wrong ways to restore antiques if you'd like to preserve their value. If you simply want something that is useful and has value to you personally, I might suggest that you stop removing the veneer that is well bonded altogether, and instead apply something to fill the voids that would be of similar thickness. Then cover all patched surfaces with a new veneer to cover your patchwork. You can choose from many types of veneer that can match the existing parts of the piece that you do not intend to recover. Only you will know what's underneath the surface, and if you do a good job it should look just fine. As mentioned, many good books on the subject will be helpful.

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