This is probably the most common problem I deal with when rehabbing old furniture.
Somtimes I simply use a heat gun and remove the veneer. Other times, the veneer needs to stay put, usually because it only has a few chips and the rest is in good shape and would hard to remove.
In the case of the dresser I’m working on right now, the sides are made of luan, and I need to keep as much wood as I can to maintain the structural integrity of the furniture.
Better than Wood Filler
For a very long time, I used Wood Filler to take care of this problem, and it works pretty well. The big drawback to wood filler is that it just takes freakin’ forever to dry. Hours and hours. Which means that projects like this one end up taking days. I don’t have days, I need to get stuff done!
The upside to using wood filler is that it’s great if you have a small defect you need to take care of, and want to stain the wood. You can buy stainable wood putty for this, which is pretty handy.
But I almost always paint my furniture. I like the look, and it makes old pieces feel fresh and contemporary. So what I really needed as something that would fill in like wood filler, but dry a whole lot faster. Say, like in 20 minutes or so faster.
Then I discovered Bondo . YA’LL. This is a game changer!
Bondo dries in 30 minutes or less.
Mix it up, (it has a base and and activator) plop it on, spread it around quickly, and in 30 minutes you can sand it down and get on with your project. AMAZING!
So, veneer that looks like this:
will look like this after the initial application. Notice that I was able to build up and fill in the chipped support in the lower left corner.
Then one good sanding, and a lot of dust later, I have a surface that is ready to paint. In 30 minutes. Woot!
I have also successfully used Bondo as a sort of glue, and was able to use it to reattach a base to a table, and to hold together a mirror frame that had cracked. Handy stuff to have around if you are rehabbing furniture!
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