Tips for removing peeling veneer

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Im sure lots of you already know this, and it may seem pretty self explanatory.  But, when i started working on this vanity and removing the veneer i thought maybe i might have a couple tricks that some of you may not know.


Lets take this antique vanity that i just finished up.  We found it outside and obviously it had been out in the elements for a bit.  Overall it was in good shape, but the veneer on the tops was peeling up.

1st – did you know that under that peeling veneer is good wood!  Just because the veneer is peeling, doesnt mean that the furniture is trash or cant be fixed.

     a.  If the veneer is in good enough shape, you could glue it back down.  Even if it has small gaps or some pieces missing and you plan on painting, glue it down and then fill in the cracks with some type of wood filler to smooth out the surface.

     b.  If the veneer is beyond repair, just take it off so you can either stain the wood underneath or paint it.

In my case, and all the peeling veneer furniture pieces that i have worked on in the past, under the veneer is solid pine or pine planks.  It looks great stained or can easily be painted.

2nd – Im sure there are tons of ways to remove veneer and you have to find what works best for you, but this one little trick will make it lots easier.

    a.  Rather than using a chisel, use a large metal putty knife with a sharp edge.  A hammer is also useful to get the putty knife under the veneer.

    b.  Keep the putty knife nice and flat, only at a slight angle so it will just slide under the veneer and peel it up.  Otherwise you will gouge into the wood making lots of dents and making the job harder.

Much better…

In my case, there were 2 layers to the veneer.  The top layer came up super easy and i just peeled it up with my hands.  The 2nd layer was tougher, but i was able to get most of it up with the hammer/putty knife.

After peeling up the veneer, there were some spots that had remaining wood glued to it and the old gluing papers.  Both were easily sanded off with an electric sander starting with an 80 grit paper and then working up to a 220 grit to get it stain ready.

After final sanding…

After stain… i did remove the veneer on all 3 tops so i had matching wood.

Anyone have some more useful hints @ peeling up veneer?  I would love to hear – just leave it in the comments so we can all read them!

To see more pics of this finished vanity, get paint or stain colors – go here