These pictures show the veneered lid of an antique sewing machine with extensive damage to the quarter-sawn white oak veneer. It was so bad that it probably should've just been either not repaired or just given a new top. You can find antique sewing machines on the web for about $100.00 in real good shape. However, on pieces of sentimental value, where the client really wants them repaired (this one was the client's grandmother's), we prefer to work with the original wood if at all possible. As you can see, the top two pictures show the veneer peeling pretty badly, with pieces missing too. Bottom left is the lid after gluing down what was there and sanding smooth. It was pressed between two other boards using maybe a dozen or so clamps. The edges had to be delicately re-edged by a router with a bit that closely matched the original curves. Bottom right is the finished cabinet, after all repairs were made.
Veneer Repair by The Chair Doctor of Grand Junction
This picture series is of a table with an example of what looks like heat damage, probably from setting a hot pan down. Some small pieces of the veneer had flaked off, and the shellac finish was in overall very poor shape. We stripped the shellac off, filled the open areas, and colored to match. Our client was very happy with the result. Veneer repair can be hit and miss, unless the entire section is replaced. It is also really hard to make sure any patch is flush or level with the surrounding veneer, and it is hard if not virtually impossible to match grain and patina. We've managed some pretty nice repairs, even at that.
This is an armoire (we think that's what it's called) with water damage before we got going on the repairs. It is made of solid walnut and walnut veneer. The owner got it from his father, and wanted to give it to his son. But the son didn't want his grandfather's armoire after it was water damaged. The owner brought it to us, hoping we could do something with it. We did.
Top left is the front, top right is peeling veneer on the doors. Bottom left is the left side (we had to turn the picture so it would fit) and bottom right is the top.
This set of pictures shows the beautiful results of the armoire after refinishing. The finish was three coats of pre-cat clear satin lacquer. The client loved the contrast between the frame pieces (corners) and the side, so we left it natural. Notice the book matching of the veneer on the doors. Book matching is where the pieces of veneer are opened like a book then glued on so that they almost match. In this case it is one piece of veneer cut in half and each half placed on one door.
Even though the project cost around $900.00 or so, Dad decided he liked it so much that he wasn't giving it to his son. He liked it so much he figured he might use it as a headstone!
This is a patch in the quarter-sawn white oak veneer of a table where the veneer was missing. A lot of old furniture used this veneer (and solid wood) because of the variation called tiger eyes. Top left is after stripping the finish and cutting the edges smooth. Top right is showing the patch cut to match. The patch is larger so we can fit the curved edge and the straight edge can be trimmed after the glue cures. Bottom left is a different view after finishing (patch on the right half of the table), and bottom right is a close up of the patch. As we've said before, the real tricky part is getting the patch to be flush with the surrounding veneer.
These pictures show another repair to the round table which is not as easy as it looks. What was done in this instance is the end piece of veneer (top left picture) was shaved off, trying to leave as much of a base as possible. Then a new piece of white quarter-sawn oak veneer was glued in place (top right). The problem is to get the veneer at the exact same level as the original. Very tricky, and to our knowledge only possible with our gluing process. In the bottom left picture the piece was colored, and in the bottom right picture after finishing you can't tell where the repair is at unless we showed you.
Another example veneer repair is this oval patch where we had to glue down a curled area and trim the edges (top left - the edges had curled up and some parts had broken off). Top right is where we installed a patch (again, not as easy as it seems because it has to be at the same level as the rest of the veneer). Bottom left is with color added (dye stain) and bottom right is after finishing. Standing at a normal distance (the photographs are close ups) without knowing where it is most people cannot see it. Even when it is pointed out it is still difficult to detect.
Many of the projects we work on have great sentimental value, and while the cost may not be reasonable from a pure economic viewpoint it sure is worth it to save a memory from the landfill. Below is the before picture of a walnut veneered Lane cedar chest that had seen some rough times. We felt like a doctor needing a crash cart! The client was mostly concerned about the top (and so was I!) so that is where I concentrated my efforts. As usual, the budget was not unlimited and we had to keep this project around the $600.00 mark, which means at some point I have to just stop. Usually just the refinish cost of a trunk like this is about $500.00. The closeup at the top right shows pieces of veneer that were missing, pieces of the substrate were missing in places also, there was the severe water stain in the middle and the large one on the right, and there were curls and buckles too!
Keeping the budget in mind, as we were working on the top we just had to pick a point to stop working, guessing how many more hours would be needed for finishing. So of course we could've done more work in matching and blending and trying to make all the fills disappear completely. Even after the top got to the acceptable stage we still had a few hours of cleaning and sanding and finishing to go. Also, it's veneer so a lot of sanding at the end was not an option. But the client was very surprised and happy when presented with the finished product.
Apparently the lady who owns this piece was having some work done in her home when she was not present and came home to find this lovely gift waiting for her. The guys swore up and down that they didn't do it, but obviously the hole is from a hammer blow. Top left is the start, and top right is a behind the scenes shot. Bottom left is after filling and disguising the hole as a knot. Not perfect, but certainly better than the attempt at ventilation by the worker. Bottom right is the back of the hole after filling.
You're probably getting the idea by now. But here's a curve for you. The top shelf of this stacked shelf was really put through the wringer. All the client wanted was the one shelf repaired and matched as best we could to the rest. Very severe damage from overwatering plants, and even the substrate (foundation under the veneer) was cracked and missing pieces, with some pieces even sliding around inside. I mean, we can do near-miracles but even we can't raise the dead (that's the Father's department). Especially for the budget price for which the client was hoping. So we removed the damaged veneer and some of the substrate, filled the remainder as best we could to provide a level base, then glued on a piece of quarter-inch oak plywood. In this case replacement was the most economical option. Fortunately we didn't have to match the middle of a dining table or something. After coloring the shelf turned out pretty close to the original, and you would have to know what you were looking at to tell the refurbished shelf from the others.
We re-glued the entire stacked shelf, which would make future veneer repairs more difficult but only if someone kept watering plants without paying attention. Even though the total cost was in the middle 200's, it was a keepsake the client wanted to have around for a long time. We're glad we could contribute to that.