This insanely easy way to remove veneer from wood will have you done with your project before you know it! Not only is it easy, but you probably already have all of the tools you need!
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Wood veneer is on a lot of furniture, including really high quality furniture, vintage furniture, and even antique furniture.
It’s a really thin piece of high-quality wood.
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Veneer basically just covers less quality wood that isn’t considered as pretty. (The wood underneath veneer is usually really great quality wood though!)
Moisture and heat can make the veneer lift up, and the edges of veneer can easily be chipped off.
So a lot of antique or vintage furniture has damaged veneer and fixing, repairing, and removing veneer comes with the furniture painting territory.
**Scroll down for some tips on how to fix veneer without actually removing it – and how you can still stain it, or paint it! **
I’ve spent quite a bit of time trying to slowly scrape wood veneer from old furniture, only to be annoyed at how long it takes.
This time though I decided to work smarter instead of harder.
I grabbed a couple of things from around the house and let them do the work for me!
There was no blood, sweat, or tears when I removed veneer this time!
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- Get a towel wet with really warm water. You want it to be wet but not dripping wet. Then lay the towel over the veneer you need to remove. Let it sit on the veneer for 2 hours to moisten up the veneer.
- Heat an old iron to its hottest setting. Set it on one spot of the damp towel for 20-30 seconds (be sure to not let it burn the towel.) The heat from the iron will soften the glue that holds the veneer onto the wood. It will also dry the veneer out and start to lift the veneer away from the wood.
- Lift up the towel and use the metal scraper to gently lift the veneer up all the way. The veneer should be mostly lifted up or loose.
- Repeat steps 2-3 until the veneer is all removed.
- Sand the new wood with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth it out.
Use an old towel and an old iron that you don't mind getting ruined. I have a super cheap craft iron for projects like this.
Tips and Tricks:
- Speed up the process a little by spraying water onto the wood veneer before even putting the towel on. This will help the wood get wet faster.
- If you live in a really dry and hot climate, make sure the towel stays wet. You may have to get it wet again a couple of times.
- You could do it without the iron, but the iron is the icing on the cake to make the veneer lift away.
- Make sure the water (and steam from the iron) doesn’t get onto any veneer in good condition. You don’t want to ruin perfectly good veneer on another part of your furniture!
- Be gentle with the scraper if you have a stubborn spot. You don’t want to accidentally gouge the wood under the veneer. To avoid gouging and scratching the wood, hold the scraper almost level (horizontal) with the veneer.
Other Ways to Remove Stubborn Veneer
- Use a Heat Gun and a Metal Scraper
- Hold the heat gun a few inches from the veneer. Let the heat soften the glue and then use the metal scraper to gently lift up the veneer.
- Use a Hair Dryer and a Metal Scraper
- Same as with the heat gun, hold the hairdryer (blowing air as hot as possible) a few inches from the veneer until the glue has softened. Then lift up the veneer with the metal scraper. This method is really time intensive if the veneer is really glued on.
- Use a Hammer and a Metal Scraper
- You can get the metal scraper under the old veneer with a little help from a hammer. Position the scraper right by a stubborn spot. Then hammer the end of the scraper into and right below the veneer. This method usually ends up with some damage to the wood underneath.
- Power Sander
- Wood Planer
- If you have a wood planer on hand, this is the time to bust it out. A wood planer can go through a lot more wood at one time than a power sander.
Should I Remove Veneer From Furniture?
- You don’t always need to remove old wood veneer to fix it! Try these tutorials to fix chipped wood veneer instead of removing it:
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What option are you going to try? Have you ever removed veneer from furniture before?!