How to Repair Wood Veneer on Furniture
Veneer is a thin sheet of wood covering an underlayment that's commonly used in many pieces of commercially produced furniture today. Because it's so thin, it can be easily damaged in a move or as a result of an accident. However, broken, chipped, and cracked wood veneer can be repaired with the right tools and a little knowledge.
Step 1 - Re-glue Lifted or Cracked Veneer
Veneer that is not completely broken can be re-glued to the underlayment. It is easier to reattach a large portion by breaking it off along any cracks. When re-gluing, be careful not to destroy the edges.
Clean the bonding surface with a dry scrub brush. Then, apply contact cement on both surfaces, and mount the broken piece carefully, making sure the edges match as closely as possible. Firmly press the whole piece down, along the edges as well as in the middle. Secure this in place with weights or clamps to ensure that the glue maintains sufficient contact while drying.
Step 2 - Replace Missing Veneer
While replacing missing veneer can be easy, finding a new patch can be difficult. The best way is to remove a piece of veneer from a part of the furniture that is not as visible as the surface, such as the inside or bottom. Press a utility knife underneath the edge on a seam and lift to remove the veneer.
When it is not possible to take a patch from the same piece of furniture, try to purchase a matching veneer or a veneer edging tape at your local home improvement center. You can also look for pieces of used furniture at garage sales and second hand stores that might have a matching surface.
To mount the patch, start by putting a sheet of paper over the broken area. Mark the edges with a pencil to make a template for cutting the new piece. Stick this pattern to the patching veneer and align it so the grains of both will match. Then, cut around the outer edge with a sharp knife; irregularly cut shaped patches are less visible compared to regularly cut shapes like rectangular and square.
Remove your patch from the sheet with the knife. If you didn't cut through completely, do not break the edges off. Instead, just go back over the cut with your knife until the piece is free. Only the top layer of the veneer should be removed; the base wood should not be cut. Finally, clean the old glue from the back of the veneer and clean the wood base.
Step 3 - Apply the Patch
Check that the patch fits well with the hole; it should fit exactly if you were precise, with no overlap or gaps within the surrounding surface. Never force the patch to the hole if it is too thick or too thin.
Sand the edges of the damaged area with sandpaper to smooth out any roughness. Then, put glue on the fitted patch and fix it into place. Clamp or put a weighted object on top to keep the veneer in place. Leave the repaired area for one to two days, and then lightly sand the edges and the surrounding surface. Refinish the repaired area or the entire surface afterward to get a more seamless blend.