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Refinishing veneered surfaces

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Anonymous

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I've not finished veneered surfaces so far never mind refinishing them, so before I wreck a beautiful table I'm looking for advice.

The table is black walnut (one of my favourite woods) but someone not only left it in the sun for a decade or two, but they also dripped water on it by overfilling a vase. The white I can deal with, but the cracked surface is something else as the edges of all the cracks are raised - and there are lots of them. Looks a bit like an aerial photograph of the Saraha desert! What's the best way to get it flat again?

I thought of stripping the finish, soaking the veneer and putting a board on top with heavy weights on it for a week or two. If I used mdf for my flat board the water should soak into it and leave the veneer drier and hopefully flat. Would that work? There is no missing veneer (thankfully), just lots and lots of cracks.

Once I've got it flat, how can I stop the veneer lifting again as it dries before I have a chance to apply the new finish?

Thanks in advance.
 

Chris Knight

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Brian,

It depends quite a bit on how the veneer was originally glued down. The best circumstance would be if it was hide glue which is fully reversible with heat and moisture.

I wouldn't wet the surface indiscriminately, without knowing more of what you have. You will inevitably wet the substrate and depending what that is, it may warp and cause more trouble.

Step one is to identify the substrate and glue.

Use a spray to wet a small portion of the veneer and a domestic iron set on "wool" to see if the application of moisture and heat can be used to lift and/or re-stick the veneer to the substrate. If you can do this, (lift and re-stick - use a palette knife or similar for checking the lifting by the way) then you have hide glue and life will be easy.

If you can lift the veneer, identify what is underneath.

Advice for the nest stage depends on the answer to this step.
 
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Anonymous

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Haven't forgotten this thread, just been working away far too much and haven't had time to do any woodwork for weeks...

I did find a superb jewelry cabinet design complete with hidden drawer though - in an old American Woodworker. Now SWMBO wants one too...
 

tim

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Brian

Any chance you can post the design - I'm looking for hidden drawer inspiration at the moment for a couple of projects.

T
 
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Anonymous

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Hi Tim. It's in the magazine - I'll see if I can scan it and post a link.

If I can't do that, here's a rough description of how it works. The secret compartment is quite clever -- you have to remove the bottom drawer, reach inside the space a pull a catch which releases the back panel to drop in a groove, revealing a drawer at the top accessed from the back. The top has a deep cornice to conceal the drawer, and the bottom is on substantial feet so allow the back to drop far enough so that the drawer is revealed. Naturally the back panel isn't fastened in but sits in a slot, held by the concealed catch set into the base under the bottom drawer. Neat. I suppose the catch could be on the bottom of the box, but having to remove a drawer to access it seems much better to me.

When I get round to building it (if I can get home for a while instead of working away all week every week) I will take a series of photos. My workshop misses me....
 
A

Anonymous

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Update to the original post.....

I ended up using paint and varnish remover as the original finish turned out to be polyurethane varnish. I had tried various solvents but it all came down to varnish in the end. Got rid of the bulk of it with chemical stripper and then used very fine grit sandpaper to smooth the surface before re-staining and applying two coats of water-based varnish to finish. They came up really nice - and sold instantly!
 
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