How to remove veneer the easy way.

How to Remove Veneer The Easy Way

Veneer damage is every furniture painters nightmare. Learning how to remove veneer the easy way wasn’t easy at all. It took years to figure out that every piece was different and because they were different, it took different methods. Today I would like to share with you a few ways that I use to remove that pesky stuff.

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How to Remove Veneer The Easy Way

How to Remove Veneer The Easy WayThe biggest challenge of removing veneer is the glue that bonds it to the wood. The older the piece, the easier it is to remove. But then again, some furniture manufacturers I swear used elephant glue.

Tools To Remove Veneer

How to remove veneer the easy way with these tools. The first thing you will need is COFFEE and a lot of it! Just kidding of course, but you will need your strength. You can expect your arms to be sore as well as a few blisters if you don’t use gloves. I had to learn the hard way.

Method #1 Using A Paint Scraper

How to remove veneer with a paint scraper. I always start off lifting the veneer at the corners. This will be the most likely areas to lift first because of exposure to rubbing, air, and moisture. There have been times that the scraper was all that was needed to remove the veneer. It’s a rare occurrence but it does happen. 

Method #2 How To Remove Veneer With Heat

How to remove veneer with a heat gun.Sometimes it’s necessary to get more aggressive. I have found that extreme heat will cause the glue to melt and make it easier to remove the veneer. I use a heat gun while prying the veneer up with the scraper at the same time.

Method #3 The Wet Towel Method

How to remove veneer with a steam iron and wet towel. If the other methods fail, I use the wet towel method. By placing a wet (saturated) towel on top of the veneer and leaving it overnight. The glue will start to break down because most glues that were used back in the day were water based. Also, I have used a steam iron on top of the wet towel to speed up this process if you don’t want to wait overnight. Heat and water will help remove the most stubborn glue.

The Last Resort

How to remove veneer with an orbital sander.Don’t do this! I know it’s tempting to try and just sand the veneer off, but I promise you it won’t be pretty the next day when you feel like your arms are falling off. How do I know? Read between the lines.

Painting or Refinishing After Removing Veneer

How to remove veneer for furniture makeovers. Once the veneer is removed, use an Orbital Sander to smooth out any leftover glue from the surface. Most of the time it is impossible not to have some wood damage from some of the aggressive methods of veneer removal. Paint is always a great choice, but if you have great success and minimal damage, staining the wood is a great way to add beauty once again to those old antiques.

Would you like another example of veneer removal? Check out this makeover I did on an antique dresser. CLICK HERE to see the full makeover! 

Until the next project… xo, Do

6 replies
  1. Jill Newton
    Jill Newton says:

    Hi, I am thinking of trying the raw wood look for a vanity I just picked up with peeling veneer. I noticed in one case you used Modern Masters Clear Coat Satin and in another case used Dixie Bell Gator Hide. Which did you like the best for the raw wood after removing veneer? Thanks!

  2. Donna Dodson
    Donna Dodson says:

    Hey Jill!
    That depends on the look you’re wanting. Each one has a different sheen. Gator Hide is water repellent and gives a satin finish look. So for a top that gets high traffic, this would be my choice on raw wood. Plus it’s water base. 🙂

    xo, Do

  3. Tricia Keeley
    Tricia Keeley says:

    Hi, I have an old claw foot kitchen table my mom got from estate sale. Veneer on top all cut n peeling. Upon removing the veneer i noticed on original wood it has little holes seems as if whonever b4 me, that they put some type of wood glue etc but it is powdery and didnt do the trick and maybe why the veneer cane into play. I dont know how to continue. My 1st veneer piecr. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I have pics if you need. I am a fan of your site btw.
    All my best Tricia

  4. Donna Dodson
    Donna Dodson says:

    Hi Tricia! Thanks for reaching out to me. I guess it depends on how you want to refinish the top. After removing the veneer, always sand it back to the raw wood. If you are painting it, you can use a wood filler to repair any holes before painting. If the wood underneath is in good condition you can proceed with stain and a top coat. Be patient with yourself if this is your first time. Removing veneer is tricky but it just might amaze you what beauty lies beneath.

    xo, Do

  5. Becky Moorefield
    Becky Moorefield says:

    Hi! Love your posts! I have a cabinet I am upcycling to use as bathroom linen storage. I already redid a sink vanity in raw wood. The cabinet has a few places where veneer is damaged/missing. I’m afraid if I remove veneer, wood may be ugly? If it is, paint? I’m afraid to mess this piece up, as it took me forever to find something that will work in the small space. And I’m torn between another raw piece and paint…..if paint, have to fix veneer? Sorry for the ramble!!

  6. Donna Dodson
    Donna Dodson says:

    Becky,

    Your project sounds lovely! The truth is that you just don’t know what the wood looks like under the veneer. Good news is… you can always paint the wood if it’s not what you want. This has happened to me a few times, but the risk of removing is so worth it when it’s beautiful Hope this helps. I would love if you would share the finished project. I love a good makeover!

    xo, Do 🙂

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