Veneer Bubbles - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 17 Old 06-03-2019, 09:54 AM Thread Starter
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Veneer Bubbles

I am refinishing a round kitchen table veneered in classic oak as shown in the picture below. Not visible in the picture are many small bubbles in the veneer. Sanding them out seems unwise to since I think I would sand through the veneer in some places. If the bubbles were large enough I would slit them and squeeze in some glue and clamp. These bubbles are too small to do that.

Any suggestions on how to proceed would be appreciated.

Thank you.

Gary
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post #2 of 17 Old 06-03-2019, 10:14 AM
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Sometimes the glue can be reactivated by an regular clothing iron. Lay craft paper to protect from burning and iron on a high heat (no steam) setting. You can also use paper grocery bag (with no printing on the bag). A hypodermic syringe can be used to inject glue thru the bubble, then ironed to set the glue if just ironing doesn't work.

Gary
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post #3 of 17 Old 06-03-2019, 10:15 AM
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You probably should go ahead and strip the top before you do any repairs. If the veneer is loose stripping will make the veneer bubble up more. Then if the bubbles are still small go ahead and slit the bubble and inject super glue under the veneer. Instead of clamping just use a hot iron to accelerate the glue. Be warned though do this with some good ventilation. The least amount of fumes off of heating the super glue will damage your eyes.
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post #4 of 17 Old 06-03-2019, 11:04 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gmercer_48083 View Post
Sometimes the glue can be reactivated by an regular clothing iron. Lay craft paper to protect from burning and iron on a high heat (no steam) setting. You can also use paper grocery bag (with no printing on the bag). A hypodermic syringe can be used to inject glue thru the bubble, then ironed to set the glue if just ironing doesn't work.
Nice feedback thanks. I have used the iron approach in the past to reduce or eliminate scratch marks but never for solving the bubble issue. I will try this on the leaf to see if ironing alone will do the job.

Thank you. Gary
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post #5 of 17 Old 06-03-2019, 11:07 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Steve Neul View Post
You probably should go ahead and strip the top before you do any repairs. If the veneer is loose stripping will make the veneer bubble up more. Then if the bubbles are still small go ahead and slit the bubble and inject super glue under the veneer. Instead of clamping just use a hot iron to accelerate the glue. Be warned though do this with some good ventilation. The least amount of fumes off of heating the super glue will damage your eyes.
Thanks, Steve. I have completed the stripping of the entire table top including the leaf. I will try the super glue approach if the iron only approach does not work. I appreciate the heads up on the super glue fumes issue. I will do this outside.

Thank you. Gary
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post #6 of 17 Old 06-03-2019, 05:04 PM
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Thanks, Steve. I have completed the stripping of the entire table top including the leaf. I will try the super glue approach if the iron only approach does not work. I appreciate the heads up on the super glue fumes issue. I will do this outside.

Thank you. Gary
I just get impatient with stuff like that. I worked super glue under veneer and was holding for about 30 seconds or so until it dried so I got the idea of rushing it with an iron. It worked well except for the fumes. The first time I used super glue with an iron I had my head directly above where I was working. You couldn't see the fumes coming and all of a sudden it was like someone threw lacquer thinner in my eyes. It really hurt but seem to dissipate fairly quickly. Probably a longer exposure and I would have had some permanent damage. Now I keep my face low and to one side as the fumes usually rise straight up.

Then I see on these CSI type shows they lift fingerprints off of paper and such by putting the item in a tent with super glue fumes so the stuff sticks to everything.
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post #7 of 17 Old 06-03-2019, 10:43 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Steve Neul View Post
I just get impatient with stuff like that. I worked super glue under veneer and was holding for about 30 seconds or so until it dried so I got the idea of rushing it with an iron. It worked well except for the fumes. The first time I used super glue with an iron I had my head directly above where I was working. You couldn't see the fumes coming and all of a sudden it was like someone threw lacquer thinner in my eyes. It really hurt but seem to dissipate fairly quickly. Probably a longer exposure and I would have had some permanent damage. Now I keep my face low and to one side as the fumes usually rise straight up.

Then I see on these CSI type shows they lift fingerprints off of paper and such by putting the item in a tent with super glue fumes so the stuff sticks to everything.
Steve, I appreciate your sharing the difficult experience with the super glue fumes. And I too have seen the TV shows that use the fumes to pull off finger prints. I did not know it was super glue in action. Even at 73 I still learn something every day. Thank you for your continuing and steadfast feedback regardless of how infrequently I ask questions these days.

Gary
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post #8 of 17 Old 06-05-2019, 10:18 AM
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Steve, I have a pretty good idea what you're dealing with here and I have to tell you go ahead and try the excellent suggestions already made, but be prepared to do a re-veneer.


I say this because more often than not, on this kind of furniture the veneer is over a particle board substrate. Wherever the veneer has popped, there is also swelling of the substrate underneath due to water penetration.


If this is the case, you may find it better to simply replace with oak plywood.
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post #9 of 17 Old 06-05-2019, 10:54 AM
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Originally Posted by DrRobert View Post
Steve, I have a pretty good idea what you're dealing with here and I have to tell you go ahead and try the excellent suggestions already made, but be prepared to do a re-veneer.


I say this because more often than not, on this kind of furniture the veneer is over a particle board substrate. Wherever the veneer has popped, there is also swelling of the substrate underneath due to water penetration.


If this is the case, you may find it better to simply replace with oak plywood.
Gaf tends to restore antique furniture where there is usually a plywood substrate. I doubt seriously if there is any particleboard in this table as there would be in modern furniture. He also wouldn't have the space or proper presses to do a complete re-veneer. I'm not sure if he is even equipped to cut a circular shape out of a sheet of plywood or not. In any case if there was something swollen under the veneer the spot would be hard instead of a bubble his trying to glue down.
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post #10 of 17 Old 06-06-2019, 05:36 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by DrRobert View Post
Steve, I have a pretty good idea what you're dealing with here and I have to tell you go ahead and try the excellent suggestions already made, but be prepared to do a re-veneer.

I say this because more often than not, on this kind of furniture the veneer is over a particle board substrate. Wherever the veneer has popped, there is also swelling of the substrate underneath due to water penetration.

If this is the case, you may find it better to simply replace with oak plywood.
Thank you for the input as scary as it is. Unfortunately I do not have the skills or facilities to execute your suggestions. I will comment further in Steve's reply to your input.

Gary
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post #11 of 17 Old 06-06-2019, 05:47 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Steve Neul View Post
Gaf tends to restore antique furniture where there is usually a plywood substrate. I doubt seriously if there is any particleboard in this table as there would be in modern furniture. He also wouldn't have the space or proper presses to do a complete re-veneer. I'm not sure if he is even equipped to cut a circular shape out of a sheet of plywood or not. In any case if there was something swollen under the veneer the spot would be hard instead of a bubble his trying to glue down.
Steve, it is impressive that you understand my environment and skills as well as you do. Thanks for that.

I don't know what the substrate wood is for this table. But I think my use of the word "bubbles" was wrong and misleading. I should have said "bump" because these are not filled with air but rather filled with whatever. So glue injections have not been an option.

I have used the approach of applying a hot iron on parchment paper to mitigate the size of the bumps. And that has helped but they have not disappeared completely. The table will be usable but not completely repaired or refinished.

My ongoing concern is that this table is kept at an unheated cottage over the winter months and will be subject to those harsh conditions again in the future. So the problem may never go away completely.

Gary
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post #12 of 17 Old 06-06-2019, 07:36 AM
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Originally Posted by GAF View Post
Steve, it is impressive that you understand my environment and skills as well as you do. Thanks for that.

I don't know what the substrate wood is for this table. But I think my use of the word "bubbles" was wrong and misleading. I should have said "bump" because these are not filled with air but rather filled with whatever. So glue injections have not been an option.

I have used the approach of applying a hot iron on parchment paper to mitigate the size of the bumps. And that has helped but they have not disappeared completely. The table will be usable but not completely repaired or refinished.

My ongoing concern is that this table is kept at an unheated cottage over the winter months and will be subject to those harsh conditions again in the future. So the problem may never go away completely.

Gary
Since I can't talk you into getting a paint sprayer I didn't think you had a veneer press. Veneer is difficult to do and do it right. I'm not equipped myself to do it and won't do that kind of work. I tried to use veneer with contact cement once and it seem to work well. Then when winter set in with wood movement the veneer bubbled up big time. The adhesive just wasn't strong enough to deal with wood movement so I just won't do that anymore. Now they make peal and press veneer which has to be much worse than contact cement.

Without being there it's difficult to say what the bumps might be. The bumps if they can be pushed down with pressure or a clamp then it's air under the veneer and can be fixed. It's pretty unusual to have small bumps under the veneer where the substrate has swollen up. It would take a pretty good soaking with water to do that so a spot like that would likely be at least 2" across. I have a table which is made out of particleboard and swollen like that and the bump is hard as a rock.

If you are needing pressure to push the bumps down toward the middle of the table where you can't reach it with a clamp you could put some kind of plastic such as package sealing tape on one side of a small block of wood and lay it on the spot being repaired. Then take a 2x4 and lay it across the block and clamp it at the edges of the table.
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post #13 of 17 Old 06-06-2019, 12:44 PM
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My apologies, haven't been here in a while, don't know GAF or that it was an antique, which now appears to be in question.

The substrate needs to be identified in order to proceed. Since the bubbles feel solid and not hollow, I'm a bit more suspicious. I've seen only particle board or MDF swell enough to lift the veneer and even split the veneer. It can get in through oak veneer quite easily since its an open pore wood.

As for re-veneering, I'll offer that I have used PVA glue (allowed to dry first) and a hot iron and it works quite well. Although not ideally suited for large areas like a table, it is possible to apply the veneer in workable strips and do a section at a time. I've repaired veneer on a table top where a whole strip came loose using this technique with satisfactory results. If you're careful about the edges, it is doable.

Last edited by DrRobert; 06-06-2019 at 12:47 PM.
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post #14 of 17 Old 06-07-2019, 07:55 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Steve Neul View Post
Since I can't talk you into getting a paint sprayer I didn't think you had a veneer press. Veneer is difficult to do and do it right. I'm not equipped myself to do it and won't do that kind of work. I tried to use veneer with contact cement once and it seem to work well. Then when winter set in with wood movement the veneer bubbled up big time. The adhesive just wasn't strong enough to deal with wood movement so I just won't do that anymore. Now they make peal and press veneer which has to be much worse than contact cement.

Without being there it's difficult to say what the bumps might be. The bumps if they can be pushed down with pressure or a clamp then it's air under the veneer and can be fixed. It's pretty unusual to have small bumps under the veneer where the substrate has swollen up. It would take a pretty good soaking with water to do that so a spot like that would likely be at least 2" across. I have a table which is made out of particleboard and swollen like that and the bump is hard as a rock.

If you are needing pressure to push the bumps down toward the middle of the table where you can't reach it with a clamp you could put some kind of plastic such as package sealing tape on one side of a small block of wood and lay it on the spot being repaired. Then take a 2x4 and lay it across the block and clamp it at the edges of the table.
Steve, this "small" project turned out to be more challenging than I anticipated. That happens more often that I would like.

The bumps were more pronounced on the table leaf and in fact I was able to tame (but not eliminate) them with some aggressive clamping. The main part of the table is less impacted and what will be will be. I did the hot iron trick and hand sanded and then very lightly 320 grit power sanded to avoid sanding through the bumps. That is the most I can do with the equipment and skill that I have.

Thank again. Gary
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post #15 of 17 Old 06-07-2019, 07:58 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by DrRobert View Post
My apologies, haven't been here in a while, don't know GAF or that it was an antique, which now appears to be in question.

The substrate needs to be identified in order to proceed. Since the bubbles feel solid and not hollow, I'm a bit more suspicious. I've seen only particle board or MDF swell enough to lift the veneer and even split the veneer. It can get in through oak veneer quite easily since its an open pore wood.

As for re-veneering, I'll offer that I have used PVA glue (allowed to dry first) and a hot iron and it works quite well. Although not ideally suited for large areas like a table, it is possible to apply the veneer in workable strips and do a section at a time. I've repaired veneer on a table top where a whole strip came loose using this technique with satisfactory results. If you're careful about the edges, it is doable.
I appreciate the additional feedback but the best I am able to do is what I explained in my reply to Steve.

Thank you. Gary
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post #16 of 17 Old 06-07-2019, 08:24 AM
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Steve, this "small" project turned out to be more challenging than I anticipated. That happens more often that I would like.

The bumps were more pronounced on the table leaf and in fact I was able to tame (but not eliminate) them with some aggressive clamping. The main part of the table is less impacted and what will be will be. I did the hot iron trick and hand sanded and then very lightly 320 grit power sanded to avoid sanding through the bumps. That is the most I can do with the equipment and skill that I have.

Thank again. Gary
You get into that when restoring furniture. That's why I don't look for that kind of work anymore. You try to give someone a fair price and it sometimes takes all day to fix something you thought was going to take an hour or two to do.

If your customer is alright with a thick finish you might put a number of coats of finish on sanding between coats to help level the surface. Without seeing how bad the bumps are it's hard to say.
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post #17 of 17 Old 06-08-2019, 07:40 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Steve Neul View Post
You get into that when restoring furniture. That's why I don't look for that kind of work anymore. You try to give someone a fair price and it sometimes takes all day to fix something you thought was going to take an hour or two to do.

If your customer is alright with a thick finish you might put a number of coats of finish on sanding between coats to help level the surface. Without seeing how bad the bumps are it's hard to say.
Steve, many, many of my projects have had issues that took way too much time to resolve. It's a good thing this is a hobby for me. I am too slow and careful and without the right facilities to ever make real money from my refinishing activities.

I have top coated the leaf and it looks fine. The bumps are still there if you run your hand over it but the customer/friend will accept this condition.

Thanks for your guidance through the process.

Gary
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