How to Remove Veneer from Wood
Because veneer is just a thin sheet of wood, it can be easily ripped and scratched. When this happens, the panel is no longer pleasing to look at. Chances are you need to remove the old veneer panel and install a new one. This guide will show you how to remove veneer panels from wood so you can install new and better ones.
Easy and efficient veneer removal from wood
Removing old and broken veneer panels from wood is necessary so you can replace it with new ones. Veneers don’t just create a lovely outer layer on wood but also offers water protection so your wooden base stays dry and strong.
Things you’ll need
- Protective gear (goggles, mask, and gloves)
- Old towel
- Warm water
- 80, 120 and 220-grit sandpapers
- Chisel or putty knife
- Old flat iron
- Orbital sander (optional)
Assess the condition of the veneer panels
Because veneers are superficial, you need to assess the condition of the panels and the underlying wood carefully before doing anything drastic. If possible, peel a small portion of the veneer to check the back and underneath it. If the veneered furniture has been kept in a moisture-rich environment for years then you must scrape the veneers off immediately. There is no use trying to save water damaged wood. You must scrape off the veneers completely.
Loosening the veneer panels
If you are treating wooden furniture with veneers then you must turn the piece so that the side with the veneer is facing up.
Wet an old towel with warm water. Squeeze the water out so that the towel is damp. Place the towel on the piece of veneer. The towel must only be on top of the veneer to be removed and not on any other area of the furniture. This will loosen the glue underneath the veneer.
Wood that is under the veneer may have water damage. You can fix these later by sanding the surface. The damp towel should sit on top of the veneer for two hours. You may need to re-moisten the towel because this won’t stay damp for a long time. If the veneer you are working on does not have any cracks, you may let the towel remain on the veneer for about three hours.
Remove the towel. Inspect the surface of the wood for curling and gaps. Because of prolonged water exposure, the glue underneath the veneer should start to dissolve.
Scraping the veneer
When the glue is soft, it’s time to remove the veneers. Clamp the furniture to a working if it is not sturdy. Take a chisel or a metal putty knife to start scraping. Scrape with the grain of the wood underneath.
Scrape inconsistent, flat strokes near the end of the furniture where the panels are already lost.
Do this several times and try to pick up the veneer and pull it out. The whole veneer can be easily removed while damaged ones may be removed in sheets.
When a veneer is stuck, use a chisel and work on the glued portion from the side or about 45 degrees off the wood grain. Remove the stuck portion with short, flat strokes and gentle pressure. In this photo, a hammer was used to aid the chisel.
You may use steam heat from an iron for very stubborn veneer. Wet an old towel and place it on the stubborn veneer. The towel should be damp. Place the iron on top of the damp towel and let it remain for one to two minutes. Keep the iron and towel away from the finished wood. Once the veneer is free, remove it with your putty knife.
Sanding and finishing the wooden surface
Use 80-grit sandpaper or use an orbital sander to finish the wood underneath the veneer. Go over the surface of the wood and remove the dust and wood glue residue.
Proceed with using 120-grit and 220-grit sandpaper. Work on the surface until it is smooth and ready to be painted or finished.
You may now paint or stain the wood or you can install new veneer panels.
Old and broken veneers are an eyesore and must be removed at once. It is easy to remove veneer, you must simply be patient to work on stuck veneer and stubborn veneer pieces using techniques like heat and scraping.