Thursday, February 2, 2012

How Not to Remove Veneer

When I started working on this dresser it had a mess of veneer peeling on the drawer fronts. Almost like the previous owners left just the drawer fronts out in the rain for months on end. The rest of the dresser was in excellent condition but the veneer was a serious mess.


There was a raised panel of veneer applied to each of the drawer fronts. First, I tried to repair it with wood glue and clamps. No go. Then I thought I might just remove the big chunks and then use wood filler to fill in the gaps. Ummm, yeah, no. Then I had the bright idea to just remove the first layer of veneer and sand down the second layer and paint that. Again, a bad idea. The second layer was too damaged and was peeling beyond repair. Yikes!



Finally, I noticed that the actual drawer was a  pretty maple and I thought that removing all of the veneer should be simple. Right? Of course, wrong. What was I thinking? Somewhere, I remember reading that if you warm the wood with an iron, it warms and loosens the glue on the veneer making the removal easier. Not at my house. It actually adhered it to the wood better than ever. Lovely. Nothing but old fashioned hard work helped. And a chisel. And a hammer.


A huge pile of veneer later...



Ta daaaa! All of the veneer was gone.


After a good sanding, I stripped the top with Citristrip and stained it with General Finishes Gel Stain in Java, then 3 coats of poly. Next, I painted the body of the dresser with ASCP in Country Gray and the drawer fronts with only a very light coat of Old White because I wanted them super distressed. 

Lots and lots of hard work later, here it is. I love it. Would I do it again? Absolutely not. I think I might pass on this dresser given the chance. I am glad I had the opportunity to learn what not to do and that the result was good. But, man was it a lot of work!!







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27 comments:

  1. We're soulmates! This post is almost identical to mine, check it out!

    http://suzyq-vintagous.blogspot.com/2012/01/catch-falling-star.html

    Your's turned out beautiful btw.
    Suzan

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  2. Chrystal,
    It turned out absolutely gorgeous! All that hard work really paid off! Just glad it was you, not me.

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  3. This piece turned out beautiful; however, thanks for the warning to pass on badly damaged veneer!

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  4. You're braver than I! It did turn out lovely, though. I'm a new blogger and now a new follower. So glad I found you.

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  5. OMG girl you got some patience :) I have the same dresser ( almost the same I silver leafed it :) ) and I love yours too ...but OMG removeing veneers !!!!

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  6. Fabulous Work and Perseverance. A wet cloth left sitting on the veneer is what I have always used. So easy that hubby even steps in and peels it off afterwards. Glue used back in the day is water based that is why it peels when exposed to moist weather.
    Kristy @ 4 the love of WOOD

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  7. PS ... hubby is a suit and tie business man

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    1. Haha! Mine too! The thought of him peeling veneer makes me giggle a little :)

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  8. This looks beautiful! Your hard work definitely paid off!!

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  9. Veneer....oh veneer. Why did they ever use it? Such a nightmare. As evidenced by your sanding job, the wood was nice to begin with. You did an AWESOME job!

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  10. I feel your pain.. I seem to be a sucker for veneer removing! Check out my buffet post (my first post) to see what I'm talking about! I do think the butane torch method would have helped you.. Maybe ;) love the color combination, may have to borrow it for my daughter's dresser for her college apartment next semester! - Susan

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  11. I have to say all your hard work paid off because it looks amazing! I love your color choices.

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  12. That is fabulous! Your hard work really paid off! Would be delighted if you would link this to Potpourri Friday!

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  13. :-) It looks marvelous. I would have taken this piece just for the hardware. LOL - I've often purchased from a thrift store, removed the hardware then re-donated it. It's that bad :-) I also have a piece with bad veneer but only on the top. I'll be checking out the other ladies blogs here for other ideas to get it off. I'm running to the garage now to give the wet cloth a try.

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  14. Hi! I popped over from Funky Junk.
    Love the dresser-the colors are perfect! I will definitely remember your veneer advice :)

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  15. Looks like something I've gotten myself into before as well. I am working on an old Italian Desk that had a few bad pieces of veneer, and I decided to remove the whole top - what a bear. On another note - I have the same 9 drawer dresser I am getting ready to start in on. I think I will leave on what is on and try to make it fabulous without a lot of stripping.

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  16. You turned it into a beautiful piece after all that. Just sorry you had to go through it!

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  17. So gorgeous! Isn't it unbelievable that sometimes that awful veneer was added over gorgeous wood? We had a similar situation here with my daughter's dresser makeover. The end result is gorgeous and well worth the big ol' pain it was!

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  18. You are too funny. The dresser looks great! Good job! I am sure you have amazing muscle power now:) I am your newest follower. Hope you can visit me sometime too:)

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  19. What a lot of hard work! Great Job and thanks for the Tutelege on what not to do! Veneer is beastly. thanks.
    Nancy

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  20. ...oh, you're just a girl after my shabby heart! Beautiful!

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  21. It's beautiful! I don't think I would've had the patience to continue the project like you did, so you're a saint in my eyes!

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  22. LOL....I just left a post on your French Linen hutch saying that I did one almost identical to it. Now I stopped over to see this dresser, only to find out I did the EXACT same one for a client! I went through the same stripping stuff you did! Except no veneer problems. It's nice to see the same piece done with two different results!!

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  23. just came across this- I have had luck actually using a damp towel and then ironing it- maybe the steam helps lift the glue? Either way fabulous end job!!

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