Bubble in table top- how to repair

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Forum topic by bbasiaga posted 05-02-2015 10:53 AM 1023 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1234 posts in 2017 days

05-02-2015 10:53 AM

My neighbor drug me down to his house yesterday in near panic. He’s got a nice dining room table with a 60” round top. It appears the table top is a plywood base, with an ash veneer on top. It is stained a dark color, and there is no built up finish. He set something on it that had some water, and this has caused a 3” round section to puff up. The veneer is still attached as the bubbled section is solid. He asked what he can do to get that to go back down. He’d tried a heat gun and in the process did some minor discoloration to the stain.

I told him to quit that, wait a week and see if it dried on its own. If it doesn’t move in that time, it isn’t going to move at all. I also stopped him from taking a sander to it and leveling it out, understanding the veneer wouldn’t be thick enough and he’d just sand a hole through it down to the plywood.

Can you guys think of any other options besides waiting it out? It was a quite expensive table.


-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

7 replies so far

View rwe2156's profile


2958 posts in 1503 days

#1 posted 05-02-2015 11:16 AM

I think you gave him good advice. I’m not an expert but I think its logical that if it is bubbled, either the veneer is detached or the substrate is swollen, or both. Depending on the thickness of the veneer, it can be bubbled and appear attached when, in fact, it is not it just doesn’t flex like you expect it to.

As for repair, if he asks you to do it I wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole unless he’s a really good guy you know well. I would think you could make a slit with the grain and keep tweaking it until you can push the veneer back down with a good edge joint that doesn’t show, then glue it back down

You’ll have an issue matching the stain, which I am woefully inadequate to answer

The same thing has happened to my table after someone put a hot pot on it without a trivet. The bubble was quite solid feeling but I know there’s a void under it. My wife “fixed” it with a tablecloth because I’m [too lazy] going to replace the whole top with solid wood [wife: ahem, that was 5 years ago].

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View JimAtLumberjocks's profile


56 posts in 2060 days

#2 posted 05-02-2015 11:25 AM

Rather than a slit, I though maybe use a syringe with a tiny needle to inject glue underneath the veneer.

-- "Are you kidding me?"

View WoodNSawdust's profile


1417 posts in 1198 days

#3 posted 05-02-2015 12:18 PM

Make sure you tell many times (over and over) that whatever fix you try probably wont work.

If the other suggestions don’t work dry steam heat to warm and moisten the surface and then compression to force the wood back. Be careful of which glue you select because of the moisture.

-- "I love it when a plan comes together" John "Hannibal" Smith

View bbasiaga's profile


1234 posts in 2017 days

#4 posted 05-02-2015 02:16 PM

I wondered about putting some veneer softener on the affected area, then injecting some glue and pressing/clamping down the area?


-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

View distrbd's profile


2252 posts in 2468 days

#5 posted 05-02-2015 02:32 PM

I wondered about putting some veneer softener on the affected area, then injecting some glue and pressing/clamping down the area?


- bbasiaga

That seems to be a good approach but I would use an iron( on a towel) to speed up the process,what can I say , I’m too impatient .

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

View DaleM's profile


958 posts in 3406 days

#6 posted 05-02-2015 03:11 PM

The heat gun probably made it worse as it steamed the water in the wood and made it swell even more. If it doesn’t fix on it’s own, you could try to just put a cotton cloth on it and steam iron it, then dry iron it, and see if that helps. I have gotten bubbles in plywood from veneer separation to lay a little flatter that way. You do have to apply a lot of pressure on the iron or it just swells the wood more when you steam it. This really isn’t a complete fix though, because I think it would still be slightly raised. If it turns out the veneer is separated, I would probably put a slit in it through the veneer, work some glue into the void with a blade, then put the the cloth over it and iron it flat until it was dry. It’s hard to say, not being able to see it and knowing what stain or finish is on it.

-- Dale Manning, Carthage, NY

View Ghidrah's profile


667 posts in 1244 days

#7 posted 05-03-2015 03:06 AM

I would suggest boring 1 or more holes from the underside, try the veneer softener from the top. Then try a caul across the top to see it the bubble does indeed relax. If so then add flat stock across the table to either side of the bubble and clamp, (to stiffen the area and prevent upward curling and possible veneer separation anywhere else) use carpet frags under the stiffeners to protect the table surface. Then hit the bubble with softener again and inject glue from the bottom of the table through all the holes. Clamp the caul and let it sit for a couple days.

The collapsing bubble should eject all excess glue through the holes.

-- I meant to do that!

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