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Good day to you all,
I came across an old hardwood chest of drawers today that someone had thrown out. Its not in great shape, but the thing that made me load it up and bring it home was the beautiful quartered, diagonal-cut veneer that was used on the top of the chest. I haven't identified the type of wood yet, but a large portion of the veneer is in great shape so I'd like to remove it so that it can be given a new life. I'm pretty sure it can be done, but I can't find much info on removing veneer non-destructively.
Does anyone have any experience with this or any ideas? Thank you sincerely in advance,
~Tim
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Old School
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I would first try a heat gun or a flat iron without steam, and get it hot without burning to see if the adhesive releases. If it does, try not to pull up, to remove, as that action may curl the veneer. If it does start to release along the edge, use a wide spatula, or putty knife to clear the veneer from the substrate as you heat along the sheet. Let us know what happens.




 

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Thanks again Cabinetman. I ended up doing as you said and it worked well. With some patience I was able to get all four quarters up pretty cleanly. Combined with the iron, I used a piece of aluminum flashing to get into the further reaches after prying up the edges with a putty knife. (you should have seen my wife's face when she finds me out in the garage with her iron working on this old trashpicked victorian chest!)
I think the veneer is mahogany on an oak backing. Most of what came up still has the backing on it, but one particular quarter decided to leave some of it behind. From that one I can tell that the underside is in very good shape. The veneer did curl slightly, so I've left the pieces individually sandwiched between clean sheets of plywood since wed and it looks to have flattened out nicely.
I don't think the backing will be a problem to remove; the few small areas that I've tried to peel away, it have come off easily. I figured I'll leave it on for now until I decide what I am going to do with the veneer. Does that sound right? Should I do anything special for long-term storage?
BTW, I found that this thing has wooden wheeled casters on it. All four have some surface rust, but function very well. I know that reproductions of these are very cheap, still I'm inclined to work on them. Do you think they are worth the trouble to restore? (for some future undetermined project)
 

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If you can store the pieces flat, that helps a lot. If you store them sandwiched, use some insulator between the veneer and the plywood, like brown kraft paper, that you can buy on a roll, in the school supply isle, it's cheap. It will keep any cross leaching of oils or acids from contaminating the veneer. Waxed paper will also work, just wipe down the veneer with mineral spirits or VM&P naptha before using.

If the veneer gets real curly, you can use a veneer softener, like this to relax it back to flat.

I forgot to add that I save all hardware from remodeled work. I just think it's a waste to throw things away, unless it is absolute trash. I always think that someday I'll use whatever it is, and I have.





 

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reusing veneer

I have good luck just throwing it in my pool! The next day if it's veneered like most old antiques with hide glue it will have come loose on it's own. Or if its small enough put it in a pot on the stove and lightly boil it off Heat and water will take veneer off most anything.
 

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I have good luck just throwing it in my pool! The next day if it's veneered like most old antiques with hide glue it will have come loose on it's own. Or if its small enough put it in a pot on the stove and lightly boil it off Heat and water will take veneer off most anything.
It depends on what it's glued with. It's an old thread, but a good one.






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