I was SO EXCITED when I spotted this Depression-Era dresser for sale!
I just adore that style of furniture so it was pretty much love at first sight!
I confess I did hesitate for a bit as that broken and chipped veneer had me concerned.
Not because I couldn’t fix it, but because the further along I get in the business of restoring and painting furniture, the less inclined I am to take on fixer-uppers.
I enjoy fixing pieces up, but with my job as teacher’s aid, a husband working as a full-time pastor as well as pursuing his doctoral degree and two children, my time is so limited.
I may WANT to take on a project, but I am always considering the investment I need to make and it is is even possible before I say YES to anything.
BUT…it is January and I haven’t painted much this winter and I don’t have any pieces waiting in a stockpile so I figured I could do this one fairly easily.
I knew I wanted to go dark and sultry with her.
But first I needed to figure out how I would address the veneer issues.
With veneer issues, you have a few option on how to deal with is.
The chipped veneer could be glued down, filled with Bondo or wood putty and then sanded to paint or simply removed.
I initially began to glue this with the intention of filling with putty then painting, but I didn’t want the repairs to be visible and thus distracting from a beautiful finished piece though.
I think there was just TOO MUCH breaking and chipping to repair so easily so I opted to just remove the veneer from the drawer fronts.
That isn’t the necessarily the easiest way to deal with it, but I think it is the option that would allow this dresser to reach her full potential and beauty!
Removing veneer can be tedious and frustrating to those of us who seek the immediate gratification a makeover can provide though so you have to go into a makeover like this knowing it will take time and patience.
Once I was able to accept that, I was ready to roll!
There are many ways to remove veneer…chemicals, an iron, and so on, but my preferred way is to take a large fairly wet (but not dripping wet) bath towel and place it on the front of the drawer fronts – the towel is saturated and wet and should be left on whatever spot with the veneer you wish to remove for an extended period of time.
I left mine on overnight and got at it the next day.
One of my hesitations was that when you strip veneer, you can often lose cool details and features on piece and the one drawer had a neat raised scalloped detail that I didn’t want to lose.
I took a box knife and scored around that detail before I removed any veneer.
Removing veneer is a pain and you have to use some caution not to get any splinters!
I use a putty knife and a hammer or mallet to do so.
Lift an edge of the lifted or broken veneer with the putty knife to begin – slide it under that piece carefully and remove as much as you can carefully – once you have pulled up as much as you can, then holding the putty knife parallel (not at an angle that will dig into the wood and leave a hole) to the drawer, tap the putty knife in further with your hammer or mallet.
I did this on both drawers and carefully around that detail I spoke about so it could be saved.
I was so pleased that I was able to keep that detail!
This was the first time I tried to use a box knife on a piece like that and the veneer came off around it so well.
So…a tip to tuck into my toolbelt for another time!
It took me a day or two to get that veneer off – I had to reapply a wet towel again to further get it off.
It was not too bad though.
Once the veneer is off, you will need to sand down the wood on the piece that had veneer removed as it will be rough to the touch. Plus oftentimes, you have some leftover stubborn glue that just won’t budge and sanding will remove that as well.
I took an extra step to put a coat of shellac on it once sanded, dusted off and ready to be painted as I wanted the paint to look good, but I don’t know that you would have to do that.
Now…I was finally ready to paint her!
I think the work was well worth it 🙂
You know, I began painting furniture before it was trendy and before everyone and their grandma was doing it.
Sometimes I get frustrated and want to quit because literally everyone paints.
It just isn’t special anymore and I get saddened about that.BUT…I do think not everyone wants to put in the work to REPAIR and RESTORE a piece.
Anyone can paint something, but not everyone can restore a piece to beauty so I think that is what keeps me going.
That fact seperates those who paint from those who restore.
Those are my thoughts anyway.
I’ll be back Friday evening to show you the finished piece!
Be sure to swing back to see how she turned out.
I promise you won’t be nearly as afraid to deal with broken or chipped veneer in the future 😉