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Thread: Veneer Damage (Self Inflicted!)

  1. #1

    Veneer Damage (Self Inflicted!)

    I’ve been reading through the forum these past two weeks as I waited for my 52 to arrive. It arrived on Friday so today I decided to start working on it.

    Overall, it is in pretty good shape, especially the interior, with drawers working smoothly, and all hardware fully functional with the exception of the key not working in the lock. (The key appears to be a replacement key from Gerstner, heavily filed down. Doesn’t work, so I assume the lock internals are messed up. Did I see somewhere that Gerstner supplies lock internals only?)

    Since the handle has seen better days I have decided to have it restored. I removed it after viewing the Gerstner video on removing split rivets several times. I removed the other top lid riveted hardware first, the rivets from the upper hinges and the upper lock hardware, to get some practice.

    Unfortunately, when removing the handle, I damaged the veneer, as you can see in the picture. I think this happened because I was not able to get the rivet split ends to stand up straight enough, and when pulling them out with pliers, or when I used the claw hammer, I did not pull straight out. Could have prevented it, in retrospect, with greater care. (I should have worked my putty knife under the ferules, and then used the claw hammer to pull the rivets, I think. Ah, well. Hindsight.

    So, given what I have here now, what does the forum recommend I do for the damaged veneer? I have the two larger pieces, so glue those back in, right? I don’t have access to clamps, so am thinking to glue down the slivers of veneer, and wipe off excess glue, put some saran wrap or wax paper on top, and weigh down with a bunch of books...

    I think the chest was left out in the rain, or stored in a moist environment at some point, because other areas, especially edges, of the top lid veneer panel have been damaged.

    Thoughts on how to deal with these? Is wood filler a good idea?

    Another veneer question — this one not self inflicted — is how to go about fixing the two vertical “bubble lines” on the recessed front panel? I read a post about slicing along the grain with a razor blade, but the “along the grain” would not be possible here. Maybe I should invest in a glue syringe with a fine needle and puncture the “bubble lines” in several places, inject glue, and pile on the books? Or, perhaps slice a number of short, horizontal cuts across the bubble line, top to bottom, with a razor blade, and then insert glue syringe tip to spread glue inside. Or....??

    I’d greatly appreciate advice on specific glue, wood filler, syringe, etc., type and brand, I should use. Since I think I will be repairing only this chest, I would prefer not to invest too much in tools and materials. Where I am now, my condo in Oregon, I only have basic hand tools.

    (Still getting the hang of uploading photos, so please view last to first.)

    Last edited by Onomea; 03-23-2020 at 10:11 AM. Reason: Added pic of front panel.

  2. #2
    Iím thinking that when I get the veneer pieces glued back on, and the handle and ferules back on the top, itís gonna look pretty good. Still in pieces below, but showing how ferules cover the worst of it)

    Been thinking how to clamp down on the glued veneer section, without a clamp, when I repair it. I think two blocks of wood, holes drilled to match the ferule holes, one on each side of the lid, bolted down tightly, oughta do it.

  3. #3
    On the front panel parallel “line bubbles,”

    after considerable reading up on the use of glue syringes, veterinary syringes, syringes for diabetics, razor blades for slicing and awls and drill bits for making small holes within which to inject the glue under the veneer, how to thin the glue, what gauge needles to use, etc., I came across a different technique which is a lot less hassle and might work... Emphasis on the might.

    An iron and a damp cloth.

    There are similar explanations on YouTube, but here is a brief description in the Washington Post:

    The reason this might work is that hide glue, which is what Gerstner uses, is very forgiving in that reheated, it softens, especially with moisture. Hence the ease with original felt can be removed. But whether reheated and cooled it will be strong enough to hold the veneer down again in my particular case remains to be seen.

    So, got the iron, a damp dishtowel, and some extra water in a bowl and proceeded:

    While the article I linked says if it’s gonna work the veneer will stay flat when it cools, when I got done with the ironing it seemed flatter but not firmly affixed. So I put some wax paper and a book on it and stood on it for ten minutes, then put it in a corner with a shelf of cookbooks stacked on top.

    I’m kinda skeptical, but I’ll see what it looks like in a day or so.

    Last edited by Onomea; 03-25-2020 at 10:35 PM.

  4. #4
    Put the books back in the shelf. To my surprise, the damp dishcloth and iron treatment worked pretty well. Not quite perfectly, but darn close.

    The linear bubble on the left, which I paid more attention to as it was more pronounced, is almost unnoticeable to the touch. The one on the right, the end towards the top of the lid, is a bit more pronounced.

    Finish looks pretty crappy on the inset panel, but that is to be expected. I think I’ll wait a few days and then decide if I want to give the one on the right another go to see if I can make it even better.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Melbourne, FL, and Broad Brook, CT
    Great job! That's using your noodle!

    I have a couple pieces of HD plastic in various sizes I use to clamp over the surfaces I repair. They provide even pressure and the glue doesn't stick to them.

  6. #6
    Thanks, Terry.

    A week or so ago, not fully satisfied with the iron, I went after the linear bubble on the right in the front panel pic above, this time with the single sided razor blade and glue syringe, again stacking books in lieu of a clamp. Worked quite nicely.

    While you can’t see it that pic, there is a very slight third linear bubble between the two that I have described. Hard to see, but if I run my finger tips very lightly over it, I can feel it. I am gonna try the iron and damp cloth on that one maybe tomorrow or so.

    Today I’m fixing a little crack and a screw hole in the bottom right corner of the front panel. The only reason I noticed it was because with the panel off, and upon close examination, one could see it. When I removed the plate over the pin, held in by a single screw, i noticed that the screw was at an angle and loose.

    Maybe someone along the line was trying to remove the lid but did not know the proper way?

    So I put some wood glue in the crack using the syringe and clamped it with my one and only clamp, a $1 thrift store doodad that I picked up sometime last year figgering it might come in handy some day. Put some wood filler in the screw hole, too:

  7. #7
    Thanks for the question and answer. That’s exactly what I did to my chest. Newbie Joe


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