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Hi. So I've been working on this mid-century table for a friend who has already paid me to refinish it for a client who is already interested in buying. I have refinished other projects for him before and they have turned out great. I am newer to woodworking, but know the basics. However, I took some bad advice and let someone ruin this table. Basically, I didn't like the way the first coat of poly went on (I'm using Danish oil Natural with a satin wipe-on poly). I cleaned it off with mineral spirits and it got the poly off, but I did make the oil finish a little uneven, and I thought I'd just give it a light sanding an re-stain it again.

A family friend came over and I thought I would just ask him what he would do. He said he would sand it, but that the orbital sander would take a long time. He suggested I use a belt sander (!). I have never used a belt sander, and this guy does construction and said he knew how to work with wood, so I trusted him. Long-story-short, he began sanding the table with the belt sander (which I later discovered probably had about a 60 grit on it) and low and behold, sanded right through the veneer in several spots and left some black streaks as well.

1. I am slightly embarrassed that I went against my better instincts and let this guy do this to my table.

2. There are several options I've been mulling over, and am here to get advice on whether any of them seem feasible.

The first idea is to just paint the damned thing. The buyer may not buy, but at least it could be sold. The second is to put completely new veneer on the panel, but I'm worried that if I just do one, the stain and consistency won't match. I've never put new veneer on, so not sure what I might be facing. I also don't want to put veneer over the whole thing because of time/money. The third option, which I'm really unsure of, is if I should patch those areas with veneer. It's oak, which I feel would be pretty simple to match. It looks like this: https://www.amishfurniturefactory.com/amishblog/wp-content/uploads/QW_WhiteOak.JPG Any suggestions would be much appreciated!
 

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Welcome to the forum, Natalie! Add your location to your profile, please.

We do like photos so show us your shop, tools, projects, etc. whenever you're ready.

Sorry you had that happen; there's a tremendous gulf between construction and furniture, as you've discovered, and 60 grit is like road gravel. Photos will help but if the panel is large then veneering without the proper equipment will be difficult. It's not that it can't be done, just difficult.

If painting is an option then you might be better off with that. Post some photos and let us take a look, please.

David
 

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Ok will do. Sorry, I'm brand new here. Just wanted to get my issue out there as it's time sensitive. I'll work on getting pictures and finishing my profile!
 

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Hi. So I've been working on this mid-century table for a friend who has already paid me to refinish it for a client who is already interested in buying. I have refinished other projects for him before and they have turned out great. I am newer to woodworking, but know the basics. However, I took some bad advice and let someone ruin this table. Basically, I didn't like the way the first coat of poly went on (I'm using Danish oil Natural with a satin wipe-on poly). I cleaned it off with mineral spirits and it got the poly off, but I did make the oil finish a little uneven, and I thought I'd just give it a light sanding an re-stain it again.

A family friend came over and I thought I would just ask him what he would do. He said he would sand it, but that the orbital sander would take a long time. He suggested I use a belt sander (!). I have never used a belt sander, and this guy does construction and said he knew how to work with wood, so I trusted him. Long-story-short, he began sanding the table with the belt sander (which I later discovered probably had about a 60 grit on it) and low and behold, sanded right through the veneer in several spots and left some black streaks as well.

1. I am slightly embarrassed that I went against my better instincts and let this guy do this to my table.

2. There are several options I've been mulling over, and am here to get advice on whether any of them seem feasible.

The first idea is to just paint the damned thing. The buyer may not buy, but at least it could be sold. The second is to put completely new veneer on the panel, but I'm worried that if I just do one, the stain and consistency won't match. I've never put new veneer on, so not sure what I might be facing. I also don't want to put veneer over the whole thing because of time/money. The third option, which I'm really unsure of, is if I should patch those areas with veneer. It's oak, which I feel would be pretty simple to match. It looks like this: https://www.amishfurniturefactory.com/amishblog/wp-content/uploads/QW_WhiteOak.JPG Any suggestions would be much appreciated!
You should never use a belt sander on a table top, even if it was solid wood. A belt sander tends to make dents in the wood that are almost impossible to see until you put the finish on. It takes more sanding with an orbital after using a belt sander than to use the orbital to begin with. Like others have said pictures would help but I think it likely the top will need to be re-veneered to properly fix it. Sometimes you can touch up a spot if the veneer is sanded too thin but sanded through there is no good fix other than new veneer.

You would need to cover the whole thing. Different cuts of veneer, age and the old stain would prevent you from making it match.

If new veneer isn't an option you might try a faux finish on the spot. The wood will likely be just two colors. The hard grain will be light and the soft grain will be dark. You could paint the spot with the light color and then draw the grain with a graining pen of the dark color. The darker you can make the table the better you can hide the spot. It won't go away, it will be just less noticeable.
 

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No such thing as never. I do it all the time, but I try not to on veneer unless it's the only option. I've built a lot of tables that where glued up and wouldn't go through the 60" planer/sander...
 

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Sorry to hear that! Electric sanders are great a very fast removal of material, and in my opinion are an enemy to veneer.

My strategy when refinishing is to use stripper to remove all of the finish. If there's an uneven area, I go with more stripper until it's all gone. As a typical rule, I'd only use sand paper for final prep (smoothing) for the refinish phase.

I think the likelihood of being able to patch with new veneer would probably be self-defeating, unless you're a pro and have an artful eye.

I've redone a couple of mid-century dressers that had lots of veneer chips, extra drilled out drawer pull holes, etc. I was able to strip and refinish the top without issues, but I determined the extent of the damage to the existing veneer for the rest was too great for the effort. I used some extra veneer I had to patch the chipped out areas, doweled the old pull holes, used wood putty to fill in remaining issues, and sanded everything flush. (I then drilled new pull holes.)

I've attached images for one of them, to give you some ideas. You can see the very ugly paint job they came with. After painting, I gave my wife carte blanche to decorate the front.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
You should never use a belt sander on a table top, even if it was solid wood. A belt sander tends to make dents in the wood that are almost impossible to see until you put the finish on. It takes more sanding with an orbital after using a belt sander than to use the orbital to begin with. Like others have said pictures would help but I think it likely the top will need to be re-veneered to properly fix it. Sometimes you can touch up a spot if the veneer is sanded too thin but sanded through there is no good fix other than new veneer.

You would need to cover the whole thing. Different cuts of veneer, age and the old stain would prevent you from making it match.

If new veneer isn't an option you might try a faux finish on the spot. The wood will likely be just two colors. The hard grain will be light and the soft grain will be dark. You could paint the spot with the light color and then draw the grain with a graining pen of the dark color. The darker you can make the table the better you can hide the spot. It won't go away, it will be just less noticeable.
Thank you. I was thinking those were my options. I would actually be interested in learning how to put new veneer on, but with this project it's more time and money than it's worth, and it's for someone else so I would be too nervous to experiment on it for the first time. So...I'll probably just end up painting. Which makes me cringe (I refer the natural wood), but it might look ok in the end.
 

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Thank you Geoff! Yeah I normally don't strip because honestly, it's messy and I don't like it, but more and more I'm learning that it's worth it. Thank you for the pictures. Very helpful! I feel like the veneer is easier to fix (or maybe just a little less noticeable) when it is on the edge of pieces. This, unfortunately, is right smack dab in the middle.
 

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Sounds reasonable. However, in this situation, this guy should have known better. That grit was way to coarse for that table, and it needed minimal sanding. He had even warned me to use fine paper (which was a no-brainer for me), but then proceeded to feel the paper that was on there and tell me it was ok. I could even tell it wouldn't be after I felt it when he was done. Should have just followed my instincts and said "thanks but no thanks!"
 

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Have you talked to anyone who restores antiques? Putting paint on a antique is just a cover up. We have an antiques store here called the Brass Armadillo. It's a large store. If I walk by a painted antique, I just keep walking...
 

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Sounds reasonable. However, in this situation, this guy should have known better. That grit was way to coarse for that table, and it needed minimal sanding. He had even warned me to use fine paper (which was a no-brainer for me), but then proceeded to feel the paper that was on there and tell me it was ok. I could even tell it wouldn't be after I felt it when he was done. Should have just followed my instincts and said "thanks but no thanks!"
Not sure what your guy does, but it sounds like he stepped out of his area of knowledge. Someone who does construction is not the same skillset as someone who works with furniture.

Have you talked to anyone who restores antiques? Putting paint on a antique is just a cover up. We have an antiques store here called the Brass Armadillo. It's a large store. If I walk by a painted antique, I just keep walking...
Much of the time, mid-century furniture isn't worth a great amount of money. We don't know what her piece is worth, but the cost of restoration vs. the value of my dresser pieces was a deciding factor for me to patch and paint, vs. re-veneering all the drawers.
 

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We need those photos!

Show an actual picture of the sanded veneer..
Close ups and the entire surface. Watch your lighting so there aren't hot spot reflections. You may need several lights or a "bounce" shield above and use the light that bounces off the shield.

There are 4 ways you can do this:
1. Reveneer the entire top.

2. Use "door skins" to cover the entire top.


3. Veneer only the portion that's sanded through, BUT mating and matching for color and "thickness" could be an issue. Veneers come in slightly different thicknesses, depending on their backers.

4. Do a "faux finish" on the sanded area and match the grain and color.

All of the above will require a "learning curve" for someone who hasn't done it. Not sayin' you can't do it, but in this case there is a both a time and money "crunch". Without seeing the actual piece it's difficult to say which approach, and then throw in your last of expertise, it can get confusing.
:sad2:
Check out these You Tubes:
https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=matching+existing+veneer+patch


 

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There is a type veneer that is more DIY friendly. It's a phenolic veneer which means it's formica with unfinished real wood veneer on the face. Because of the formica backing it can be applied with contact cement and trimmed off with a laminate trimmer bit just like formica. It could be ordered by any box store that sells plastic laminate.
 

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Thank you all for being so helpful and giving me feedback. I've been working on it in my sister's garage, so was just able to get around to taking pictures. I took close ups of some of the bad spots, as well as the entire table. These were the best pics I could get.
 

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It looks like you might have some quarter sawn oak underneath the veneer. If you have decided to paint you might go ahead and sand all of the veneer off and see what is under it. It might be the wood underneath is better. Just remember to run the orbital a long time if you use a belt sander. The wood underneath should be solid wood.
 

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It looks like you might have some quarter sawn oak underneath the veneer. If you have decided to paint you might go ahead and sand all of the veneer off and see what is under it. It might be the wood underneath is better. Just remember to run the orbital a long time if you use a belt sander. The wood underneath should be solid wood.
Steve, that's what I was thinking as well. Another option I wondered about was sanding through the veneer to get to it. My only concern is whether or not, with the grain being horizontal, if it will match up between the panels. I am guessing maybe that's why they put vertical veneer on in the first place? You're right, if I might have to paint it anyway, I might as well see what the wood underneath is like. If I do sand it off, what grit should I start with? Also, do you think sanding it down would be a better option than trying to pull it off with heat and a scraper?
 

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Steve, that's what I was thinking as well. Another option I wondered about was sanding through the veneer to get to it. My only concern is whether or not, with the grain being horizontal, if it will match up between the panels. I am guessing maybe that's why they put vertical veneer on in the first place? You're right, if I might have to paint it anyway, I might as well see what the wood underneath is like. If I do sand it off, what grit should I start with? Also, do you think sanding it down would be a better option than trying to pull it off with heat and a scraper?
I believe the wood underneath is running in the same direction as best as I can tell from the photo. All I'm seeing is the lateral rays which normally run perpendicular to the grain as in the picture. Still it's possible the wood underneath is junk wood with knots or other defects but I have seen very good wood underneath veneer. It will just be a crap shoot. The old veneer is probably on there so well I don't think you could lift it with heat. As long as you thoroughly sand it with the orbital afterwards you might go ahead and grind the veneer off with the belt sander. Just try your best to keep the sander base flat on the table. The least tip one direction or another will cause the dents I mentioned. Also make sure the metal plate under the belt doesn't have any defects in it. An abnormality in the base plate can cause dents too.
 

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Try this before sanding .....

Steve, that's what I was thinking as well. Another option I wondered about was sanding through the veneer to get to it. My only concern is whether or not, with the grain being horizontal, if it will match up between the panels. I am guessing maybe that's why they put vertical veneer on in the first place? You're right, if I might have to paint it anyway, I might as well see what the wood underneath is like. If I do sand it off, what grit should I start with? Also, do you think sanding it down would be a better option than trying to pull it off with heat and a scraper?

Steam heat will soften most glues and in the case of hide glue make so soft you can get the veneer off. It won't hurt to try since you may have to sand it regardless. A steam iron or a steam "buggy" sold years ago on TV would work. looks like really nice wood underneath and it it's solid wood, you can sand it down considerable withour harm.
 
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