Can You Repair a Table Top That Is Veneer?

Wood veneer is a thin piece of wood sliced or peeled from a log with a saw or special cutting machine. It is used to top wood furniture, including tables, dressers and desks. It is attached to the wood with strong glue. While wood veneer is a good protective barrier for the natural wood beneath it, its delicate construction makes it susceptible to peeling, splitting and curling caused by moisture and age. You can repair it with a minimum of tools and materials.

Tool and Material Requirements

Peeling or splitting wood veneer can be fixed with simple tools and techniques.

Most of the required tools and materials are common. You need a razor cutter, or box cutter, which is a small hand tool that holds a single-edge razor blade on one end to precisely cut through the veneer. To remove the debris under the old veneer, use a toothpick or knitting needle, along with a thin-bladed knife to scrape underneath the covering without disturbing the surrounding good veneer. Use a household iron to apply heat to the repaired veneer. For large repair projects, you need a vice to hold large replacement pieces in place while they dry. Other required materials include parchment paper, carpenter’s glue and masking tape.

Peeling and Curling Repairs

If the old veneer surface is intact but peeling or curling off the wood surface beneath it, clean out the dirt and dust beneath it. Place a piece of parchment paper on top of the peeling surface and run a warm iron over it until the original glue liquefies and becomes tacky. Use a dry iron, as steam may discolor the veneer. Place a heavy book on the repair and let it dry. If this fails to reattach the veneer, cover the surrounding area with masking tape to protect it from glue that may seep out during the repair. Apply the glue underneath the peeled section and spread it with an old knife or thin, smooth wooden stick. Place the veneer in place, cover it with parchment and place a heavy book on top until it has thoroughly dried.

Repairing Splits and Bubbles

For veneer that is splitting at the seams, thoroughly clean the area beneath the split with a toothpick and use the sticky side of a piece of masking tape to pick up the tiniest particles. Cover the edges of the split with masking tape to protect the outer veneer from glue and apply the glue under the split, pressing down to evenly distribute it. After it adheres, remove the masking tape, wipe away the excess glue and cover with a heavy book to let dry. To fix bubbles, cover the entire bubble with masking tape and then gently burst the bubble with a razor cutter. Remove the surface dirt, apply glue, flatten the bubble and proceed with the split repair procedures.

Major Repairs

Replacing large sections or entire tabletops requires purchasing new veneer at a furniture repair store. Remove the damaged veneer and lightly sand the wood underneath to give it a slightly rough texture that will better adhere with the new veneer. Protect the table edges with masking tape before covering the tabletop with glue and placing the new veneer on top. Smooth the veneer with a rolling tool or your hands to remove air bubbles. Secure the veneer around the table edges with vices and cover the center with heavy books. Let the new veneer set for a minimum of 24 hours, frequently checking it and smoothing out bubbles during the first few hours of curing.

About the Author

Cassie Damewood has been a writer and editor since 1985. She writes about food and cooking for various websites, including My Great Recipes, and serves as the copy editor for "Food Loves Beer" magazine. Damewood completed a Bachelor of Arts in English with an emphasis in creative writing at Miami University.