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advice on fixing veneer seams

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Forum topic by mzimmers posted 01-01-2018 05:39 PM 498 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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mzimmers

212 posts in 4118 days


01-01-2018 05:39 PM

Hi, all -

Happy 2018 to everyone. I just moved into a new place, and the old owners left behind a very old and very large desk. It’s a George H. Fuller desk that I’d guess is at least 75 years old (I’d be happy to furnish more pics if anyone’s interested), and it’s in really pretty good shape for its age. The only real issue is that the veneer on the top has begun separating at the seams in places. I’m including a pic of the worst area.

Anyone have experience in fixing this kind of issue? I may or may not bother with it; I might just try selling it as is (it’s really too big to be useful to me, but I just love it nonetheless).

-- M. Zimmers


10 replies so far

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shipwright

8166 posts in 3001 days


#1 posted 01-01-2018 05:55 PM

If it’s that old it is likely hide glue. If it is you may be in luck.
Try spraying a light mist of water on it and then iron it with a regular household iron. Set the iron hot to the touch but not hot enough to burn you. The glue is made of the same stuff you are and you don’t want to burn it.
If it is hide glue the moisture and heat should rejuvenate the existing glue and re-glue the seam.
If it isn’t hide glue, you have a much bigger problem as most other glues need to have residues removed before they can be re- glued.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese! http://thecanadianschooloffrenchmarquetry.com/

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Rich

3883 posts in 792 days


#2 posted 01-01-2018 09:22 PM

Here’s a good Tom Johnson Antique Restoration video where he does a similar repair. Yours is less damaged, so the repair should be quite easy. I find a heat gun is much easier to control than other heat sources, but the trick is to pry up the veneer around the crack, spread glue underneath and clamp with a large, flat caul. Be sure to cover the caul with something like clear packing tape that the glue won’t adhere to it, and if possible, use hide glue so that you can clean the excess with water.

No one can do it better than Tom, so here’s the video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qxNI7bRh9E

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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bilyo

421 posts in 1305 days


#3 posted 01-01-2018 10:35 PM

I tried using heat to do a similar repair once and the heat caused the veneer to shrink making the problem worse. My repair was on new work. Is that likely to happen with something this old?

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shipwright

8166 posts in 3001 days


#4 posted 01-02-2018 12:15 AM

I would only add more glue if the first try with moisture and an iron didn’t work. If it is hide glue it should work.
Again if it’s not hide glue you have other problems.
Interesting video. Extreme damage, not well repaired IMHO …. but repaired.

bilyo, The reason heat / moisture works (and you need both) is that you are dealing with a reversible hide glue.
Dry heat may indeed shrink the veneer and “modern” glues are not reversible anyway. If you were dealing with new work it is not likely that it wasn’t hide glue.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese! http://thecanadianschooloffrenchmarquetry.com/

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Rich

3883 posts in 792 days


#5 posted 01-02-2018 01:16 AM


Interesting video. Extreme damage, not well repaired IMHO …. but repaired.

- shipwright

Humble? :) That was a short clip of one step in a restoration. Watch his videos and you’ll see that the final result is always outstanding.

Anyway, Tom Johnson has over 40 years of experience restoring antiques. Often the real expertise comes with knowing how far to go without lowering the value of the piece. I’ve watched every one of his videos multiple times and learn something new each time. Give them a look — perhaps even you might learn something new.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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Rich

3883 posts in 792 days


#6 posted 01-02-2018 01:38 AM

Back to the OP — the video gives you an idea of how to lift the veneer just enough to get some glue spread underneath. Using liquid hide glue like Old Brown Glue, if you are able to do that and get solid clamping force on the repair, odds are it won’t require any sanding or touch-up. Just sponge the excess glue off with warm water and give it a good polish with the product of your choosing. I like a wax called Crystal Clear paste wax by Staples (not the office supply folks).

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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shipwright

8166 posts in 3001 days


#7 posted 01-02-2018 05:44 AM

Sorry Rich, really.
I didn’t research the man’s work. I’m sure he had his reasons for the approach he used but the result in the clip is not good work. Perhaps he goes on to disguise it. Perhaps he is on a budget for the project. Lots of reasons for doing things one way or another.
Back to OP. I don’t disagree with you. I would just try it without adding glue first. It shouldn’t be necessary.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese! http://thecanadianschooloffrenchmarquetry.com/

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Rich

3883 posts in 792 days


#8 posted 01-02-2018 04:12 PM

No apology necessary, Paul. On the contrary, I apologize to you for doing the very thing I complain about on LJ, which was to jump in without thoroughly reading the thread. I was so certain I knew exactly what to do, that I skimmed right over your suggestion, which is clearly the best thing to try first.

Everyone’s heard of the Doppler Effect where a train’s whistle sounds higher pitched the faster it approaches you. Well, I’m a frequent example of the Dopeler Effect, where a dumb idea sounds smarter the faster it comes at you.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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shipwright

8166 posts in 3001 days


#9 posted 01-02-2018 08:16 PM

We’re good Rich. :-)

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese! http://thecanadianschooloffrenchmarquetry.com/

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

1486 posts in 365 days


#10 posted 01-02-2018 09:02 PM

I agree with Tom’s method – but – I don’t agree with a statement that he made.
He said he uses hide glue, “but any carpenters glue will work.”
ohhhhhh nooooooo once you use the modern adhesives, they are pretty much
done after application. no going back to “heat it up and do it again”.
a person should experiment with similar materials prior to attempting repairs
on an expensive item or something with great sentimental value. (been there – done that).
if one wants to add veneer repair to their shops roster, get an old door or something
that has veneer on it . . . . wet it, put it out in the weather, and when it is all cracked
and damaged – THEN do your experimenting in veneer and wood repair. (keep an eye out for curb finds).
the tools that he used are common sculptor and pastry spatulas found in most art and hobby stores.
very useful tools to have on hand. (both metal and plastic types).
hide glue has been around since the pyramids. not much has changed with its methods of use since then.
- just an observation -

some nice stainless Oil Painting Palette Knife and Spatula sets are on E-Bay for $4 w/free shipping (from China).

.

.

-- I started out with nothing in life ~ and still have most of it left.

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