No. 141 A desk in Crushed Velvet | Tutorial on Removing Veneer


This was one of those goofy project that should have taken a couple of days and instead took about 2 weeks!  But in an effort to help you learn from my mistakes, I'm discussing veneer removal and tips and tricks I've learned.

But first, the pictures,

 Desk "before"

Desk "before"

 Desk "after"

Desk "after"

This little desk was painted in two coats of Behr Ultra in stain finish in a beautiful rich pink called Crushed Velvet.  I distressed and then glazed it with Van Dyke Brown Glaze Effects, and sealed in with General Finishes High Performance Poly in flat finish. 

The top once stripped (I'll get to that in a minute) was stained with Java Gel and sealed with the same High Performance Poly in flat.

The chair was also just sanded well with 220 grit and then stained and sealed the same way as the top.

The veneer on this piece was loose in some places when I brought it home, so I first tried my go-to wet towel trick: wet a towel (more than damp but not dripping) and place it over the veneer you want to remove.  Walk away - sometimes a few hours, sometimes overnight.  Return and peel the loose wood away. 

But this time when I returned, the wood was still very stuck.  So I wet the towel a little more, replaced it and walked away again overnight.  The next day, the wood was wet but still not loose. So what to do now, remember Tim-the-Tool-Man-Taylor?

"More Power", but sorry, I digress.

Okay, I pulled out my nifty new Heat Gun and set to work! 

 Tools to remove veneer

Tools to remove veneer

Here's what you need,

-work gloves (for the love of all things good wear gloves, I speak from experience when I say you DO NOT want splinters in your nail beds)

-heat gun

-6-in-1 paint tool or other scraper


Now just start heating the veneer one section at a time, it will bubble and curl up as it's heated and as the glue underneath softens, then start scraping and peeling with your painters tool.  Some spots you'll need to use the scraper and hammer to get off.  Just work section by section until you are done.  May take up to 2 weeks ;) Keep in mind your metal tools will get hot as you use the heat gun, so another reason to wear gloves!

Lesson learned in this whole project:

Sometimes you should just get some wood glue, and clamps and fix the veneer rather than peel it off!

All that to say, the wet towel trick works MOST of the time.  If you have missing or cracked veneer you should probably remove it.  If its a place that can be repaired, try that first. 

Once the veneer was removed, I let the wet glue dry and then sanded the top with 80 grit sandpaper before staining.  The wood underneath was a bit more rustic looking, but still came out pretty nice.

A little blood, sweat and thankfully no tears, and this desk is finished and off to my client!

Let me know if you have any questions on removing veneer!

This post contains affiliate links, which I hope are helpful to you as you look for things that work! To see a list of more tools and items I use often, see my Resource page.

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