How to Repair Veneer Surfaces?


How to Repair Veneer Surfaces?

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How to Repair Veneer Surfaces?

Furniture and cabinet makers often apply a very thin layer of hardwood (veneer) over a less-expensive base material.  The glue bonding the veneer to the substrate can fail, causing it to delaminate at the edge or bubble (blister) in the interior; or the veneer can be damaged enough to require a patch. You can usually make these repairs yourself. Purchase wood veneer at craft stores and through woodworking mail-order catalogues. (We recommend that you have a particularly valuable piece repaired by an experienced professional.) Here are the basics for repairing damaged veneer.

Materials Needed :

1) Very thin, sharp blade - Block of wood and weight 

2) Flat metal ruler or other straightedge - Thin paper (tracing paper)

3) Hairdryer or household iron #2 lead pencil

4) Brown paper bags or Kraft paper - Matching veneer

5) Veneer roller or wallpaper seam roller

6) Cutting board - Matte knife or very sharp wood chisel, 120-and 220-grit sandpaper or Artist's palette knife

7) C clamps

8) Yellow carpenter's glue - Stain and finish with appropriate applicators and solvents

9) Wax paper - Artist's paintbrush and oil paints (optional)

Tips: This project requires that you make very sharp cuts into veneer, but even the sharpest matte knife or single-edge razor can damage it. For best results use a scalpel (available by special order from pharmacies) or a double-edge razor blade, which is thinner and sharper than a single-edge razor. To stiffen the blade and cover the unused edge, sandwich and glue the blade between two small, thin pieces of wood or wrap all but one edge of the blade with numerous layers of tape.

To Fix a Veneer Blister or Bubble

1. Try to Reactivate the Glue: If the furniture is old, the glue may be reactivated with heat. To do this, use a very sharp, thin blade to cut a straight slit through the veneer in the direction of the grain from one edge of the bubble to the other.

2. Then heat the surface with a hairdryer, or place several layers of brown Kraft paper (paper bags) over the area and use a household iron. When the glue is softened, immediately roll the area with a veneer roller or wallpaper seam roller.


Tip: To avoid overheating and softening nearby well-adhered areas, heat a little at a time and press-and-release the veneer to test whether the glue has become tacky.

Re-glue the Venner :

If the heat doesn't work especially on modern glues, use a very sharp, thin blade to slit an elongated X through the veneer as much in line with the grain as possible. Then scrape as much old glue as possible off the substrate and the back of the veneer using a matte knife or very sharp wood chisel. Use an artist's pallet knife or similar tool to apply yellow wood glue between the veneer and the substrate. Roll the surface with a veneer roller or a wallpaper seam roller. Wipe off excess glue with a damp cloth. Cover the area with wax paper, a block of wood, and a heavy weight for at least one hour.


Tip: These same two steps can be used to rebond veneer that has delaminated at an edge, except that it is not necessary to slit the veneer.

To Patch Damaged Veneer

1. Cut out the Damaged Veneer: Use a matte knife (with a brand-new blade) guided by a metal ruler to make an elongated diamond-shape cutout in the veneer around the damaged area. The patch will blend with the grain and figure of the wood better if you avoid making cuts across the grain, therefore cut it so that the long points of the diamond are in line with the direction of the grain.

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2. Remove Veneer and Old Glue: Remove the veneer inside the scored diamond using a matte knife and/or a very sharp wood chisel, bevelled side facing down. Scrape off all the old glue to the bare wood.

3. Trace the Patch: Lay a piece of tracing paper over the cutout and lightly rub the perimeter with the side of a soft pencil. Tape a piece of matching wood veneer to a cutting board and tape the tracing paper over the veneer.


Tip: Compare and match as closely as possible the wood grain and figure of the area to be patched with that of the veneer patch.

4. Cut the Patch: Use a very sharp, thin blade (such as a matte knife) guided by a metal ruler to simultaneously cut through the paper and replacement veneer. Test the fit and, if necessary, carefully reduce the edges by sanding the grain against fine sandpaper on a hard, flat surface. Be very careful. The veneer will be delicate, especially at the points.


5. Install the Patch: Brush a thin coat of yellow wood glue on both the surface of the substrate and the back side of the veneer patch. Press the veneer in place with a roller and cover it with a piece of wax paper. Lay a block of wood over the wax paper and apply a C clamp or a heavy weight for about an hour.


6. Sand and Finish: Sand the patch until it is perfectly level with the surrounding area and apply stain and finish to match the existing surface.

Tip: To make the patch even less evident, use an artist's brush and oil paints or permanent markers to extend grain lines from the surrounding area into the patch (or vice versa) before applying a finish.


a) Superficial surface dirt can be removed by a wipe with using a slightly damp cloth or chamois leather. Always dry the surface afterwards.

b) Always wipe along the direction of the grain to bring out the beauty of the timber.

c) Always rinse the surface well with clean water to remove excess detergent solutions or cleaners.

d) Grease, oily materials or other stubborn marks may require the use of stronger cleaning compounds, a non-abrasive cleaner agent.



a) Do not use strong detergents, ammonia, chemicals, scouring powders, stain removers thinner, nail varnish remover or other harsh cleaning substances to come in contact with finished exterior surfaces as they can cause damage.

b) Never use solvent-based cleaner or cleaners/waxes that contain silicon wax or oil-based detergent as these may dull or damage the finish, leaving a greasy film and more difficult to clean.

c)  Beware of sharp/hard objects that can permanently damage any part of your door.

d) Direct sun can discolour your door. Close curtains and blinds to protect from the sun’s intense UV rays.

e)  Don’t let any moisture get into any joints.

f)  Never try to hang or nail anything on the doors.