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Discussion Starter #1
Hey everyone! I just found this mid-century modern style desk at my Goodwill. To my knowledge it's not a name brand piece from that era and there are no markings anywhere by the maker, so I'm not really sure when or where this came from. I want to fix her up and make her pretty again. I am planning on the finished product having a slightly darker stain than it does now, as well as painting the ugly laminate top white or black. My main question is about the stripping/sanding of the veneer on the body and drawer fronts. The veneer is 1/8 in. thick on drawer fronts and a few other spots, 1/4 in. on the sides of the main cabinet. I know to be careful sanding it, but was curious of any other methods I could use to strip it, especially on the thinner veneer. Also, there are some dings and smaller chips that I'd like to even out/repair as best I can, but I can live with some imperfections. Is a filler appropriate? What type and can it be stained? I'm new here, so I'm going to post pics, but not sure if I'll get that right on the first try. Any suggestions/advice much, much appreciated!!
 

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If you are going to refinish the entire piece I would start with chemically removing the finish. The best non-professional remover
I've used is Kleen Strip. I think you can even get it at Wal-Mart. You will need to use it outdoors because the fumes are very dangerous and you should try not to breathe them. If you wear a chemical respirator the filters should be disposed of after each job. then you should wear chemical resistant gloves. If you've not used paint stripper before you would brush it on in small areas and keep it wet until the finish lifts off easily and then scrape it off with a putty knife. Then rinse with water, power washer if you have one and use low pressure. If the veneer is really 1/8" thick you should have nothing to worry about sanding it. For veneer that is really thick. If you mean dents when you say dings, sometimes you can use a damp cloth with a hot iron and steam much of the dent out. The chips I would just fill with a wood filler appropriate with the color finish you are doing. The putty will stain but you need a color close to the finish color. If you are going dark, probably walnut wood putty would be the one. I personally like the famowood brand.

The part of your message about painting the laminate. If it has a formica type panel in it try to avoid getting remover on it. If it is a formica type panel scuff it with some fine sandpaper and prime it with Prep-Rite from Sherwin Williams. Then you can paint it with whatever you wish.

To post pictures just above the typing window there is a paperclip icon. Click that and it will take you to a menu to upload your pictures. When the icon comes up that the picture was loaded just click at the top close window and it's ready.

 

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Discussion Starter #4
Cabinetman- I couldn't get them to upload from my phone, so I've gotta transfer to pc and then upload from there. I'll be doing that in the morning and would still appreciate any advice or experiences.

Steve- Thanks for the reply! The finish that's on there now is a stain of some kind, wouldn't the putty knife just scrape off the wood? Not a lot of experience with stripping stain, so I could be wrong.

Pics tomorrow.
 

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Stripper is still the best to get stain off. It won't get it all off but it will make the piece more uniform and open the grain of the wood for future stain. What I would do is get some help and brush the entire thing down with remover keeping it wet for about 20 minutes and wash it off with a power washer. Like I said before I would stay away from the formica top. I'm afraid someone may have put the formica on with contact cement and the remover would lift it off. Without being there to see it I can only guess.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
pictures

Well, I've been trying to upload the pics, but I keep getting blocked from doing so and redirected to inform the admin. Something about a security token?
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
pictures!

Trying pics again, think I've got it this time.

pic1- the desk as is

pic2- shot of drawer where the veneer is separating, it is 1/8in thick here

pic3- shot of one of the side panels of 1/4in veneer. The bright spot is where I sanded lightly, must be my flash because it looks greatly exagerated.

pic4- side shot of the 1/4in veneer where it's separating

pic5- shot from back of desk, not sure if it can be made out, but it's just a pic showing the 1/8in veneer over whatever it is. Any ideas what's under it?

Anyway, I hope these help or are a good starting point on getting some advice on how to approach this. Sorry if the are a bit ugly-taken from my iphone.
 

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Trying pics again, think I've got it this time.

pic1- the desk as is

pic2- shot of drawer where the veneer is separating, it is 1/8in thick here
Looks like here you could just get yellow glue in behind the loose veneer and clamp together.

pic3- shot of one of the side panels of 1/4in veneer. The bright spot is where I sanded lightly, must be my flash because it looks greatly exagerated.
That looks like veneer faced plywood that you sanded through. You may have to re-veneer that panel.

pic4- side shot of the 1/4in veneer where it's separating
That looks like 1/4" veneer plywood that's loose. Glue behind and clamp up.

pic5- shot from back of desk, not sure if it can be made out, but it's just a pic showing the 1/8in veneer over whatever it is. Any ideas what's under it?
Looks almost like a hollow core door, or blockboard (lumber core plywood) with a veneer face.








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The veneer is applied to the substrates that are delaminating on the drawer front and sides in your pics. You'll want to reglue (with clamps) before you start stripping or sanding. If you sand, be careful because the veneer is probably 1/32 or less. If you are going to paint that formica top you'll probably want a piece of glass cut for it. The veneer is walnut but the solid wood parts are possibly ash but more likely poplar. I deal with a lot of these furniture pieces every week, feel free to PM me if you want. What are the dents you referred to earlier?
 

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I agree with Cabinetman and Matt Tennessen. Try to work wood glue under the veneer and glue it down before you try to strip it. I use a cake spatula to work glue under veneer like that. The veneer probably is very thin with a thicker under layer which the under layer is coming loose. In all likelihood you will have to glue some more after you strip it but the veneer thats loose now will wrinkle up real bad if you don't glue it down first. That spot you sanded I wouldn't sand on it anymore until after you strip it. It's possible you just sanded the stain off. We can only see so much from the pictures.
 

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My wife and I recently picked up a couple mid-century record players....$70 for both. The record players are toast but we thought we'd fix up the bodies and make a storage piece out of them. The attached picture is the one we're working on right now in its "farm fresh" state:

image-3178286290.jpg


We sanded the whole thing and we wanted to give it a nice new coat of Minwax Special Walnut but we sanded a bit too much in a couple areas and messed it up. So now we've got a couple ugly smooth spots amidst the beautiful wood grain. Also, the stain too different to the trim and top/sides must be different kinds of wood. Lame. So instead of trying to deal with replacing the veneer we decided to paint this one. We'll be done with it's makeover soon, you can see the finished product over at: http://www.zelophotoblog.com/91204

Good l
 

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Got cut off early.....anyway, good luck with your project. I love mid-century modern stuff so it will be interesting to see your results. Have fun!

-Seth
 

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Discussion Starter #14
First, I just want to say thanks for all the replies! It's all very helpful. :)

I'm definitely going to do the gluing before the stripping. I don't have much experience(ok, any) with veneer. I've only worked on solid wood, so this is a new adventure for me. I'm bummed to find out it's such a thin veneer, was hoping that it was thicker since the piece is a little older, but that's the breaks.

Here's a couple more pictures(little better quality).

pic1-better view of the spot I sanded. Did I go to far?

Pic2-shot of the "ding" I was talking about, there are a few more, but this is the biggest. It's depressed about 1/8in.

pic3-the drawer pulls- I'm not sure if they are solid wood or more veneer, any thoughts?

pic4- pic of the bottom left corner of outer main panel. Am I just doomed to reveneer?

Again- thanks for all the help. I'm working really hard on making more than just a hobby out of refinishing and reupholstering furniture, so it's all a learning experience for me and I take everyone's suggestions and advice serioulsly.
 

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Pic #1 it looks like the very edge is too far but it may be the flash. The walnut will appear coppery brown, the substrate underneath is your white wood.
Pic #2 you might be able to lift that dent with a little steam. I'm sure someone will cry foul, but I've had good luck using a damp cloth (like a rag or part of an old towel, to hold a little more moisture) and an old iron. But it's also possible that the particleboard underneath has collapsed or been crushed, in that case it may not help you.
Pic#3 the pulls are solid, but probably not walnut. Ash or poplar were commonly used.
Pic#4 I can't tell if the veneer is totally gone or if it's just a little scraped up. If so, you'll probably blend that when you sand it. Even if it's through, you mentioned you're going to stain it, it'll probably disappear.

What are you using to do this? Scrapers? Finish sander or ROS? What grits? What will you be finishing it with and what are your ideal expectations?
Also, where are you located?

P.s. I' looking at this on a phone so I apologize if your pics are better than what I can see.
 

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Pic #1 it looks like the very edge is too far but it may be the flash. The walnut will appear coppery brown, the substrate underneath is your white wood.
Pic #2 you might be able to lift that dent with a little steam. I'm sure someone will cry foul, but I've had good luck using a damp cloth (like a rag or part of an old towel, to hold a little more moisture) and an old iron. But it's also possible that the particleboard underneath has collapsed or been crushed, in that case it may not help you.
Pic#3 the pulls are solid, but probably not walnut. Ash or poplar were commonly used.
Pic#4 I can't tell if the veneer is totally gone or if it's just a little scraped up. If so, you'll probably blend that when you sand it. Even if it's through, you mentioned you're going to stain it, it'll probably disappear.

What are you using to do this? Scrapers? Finish sander or ROS? What grits? What will you be finishing it with and what are your ideal expectations?
Also, where are you located?

P.s. I' looking at this on a phone so I apologize if your pics are better than what I can see.
+1. :yes:





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Discussion Starter #18
Matt- From what I've learned so far, I was just going to lightly sand the veneer pieces with a 220 block, just so that it will take the finish, but I've also heard that I should just use a stripper since it's so thin. Not sure what an appropriate stripper would be, though. As far as the finish goes, I was planning on using Minwax(?) in a slightly darker tone with a touch more red and then a few layers of poly. I'm open to suggestions on the sanding or type of finish. :) I'm sure it's interesting listening to what a rookie has to say, but I really appreciate the feedback, as I'm just flying by the seat of my pants on this one. Also, I am in Ga. I'll attach a pic of what I was hoping to get close to.
 

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P.s. Just to give you all some insight into who your dealing with here...

I'm a 30 yr old female bartender who does reupholstering, but I haven't done much in the way of refinishing except for a few personal projects. I'm looking to expand and I'm very interested in learning all I can. I haven't quit my "day job" yet, but I'm working on it. Sooo, now that you know a little more about me, I hope I can make some friends here, because I'll need all the help I can get. :)
 
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