Repairing Veneer

2 Materials
4 Hours

Repairing veneer isn't as scary as it seems. There are plenty of things to spook you this Halloween season, but cracked and missing veneer shouldn't be one of them! I love to try new things and then pass that learning along to you but instead of my usual abundance of information at once, I'm splitting this project into manageable chunks and will get to the final reveal another time! I promise, it will be worth the wait!

When I stumbled on this Singer sewing table at Value Village, I thought twice about buying it, then couldn't help but bring it home with us. Although the sewing machine was long gone, I could only imagine the wondrous things that were stitched together at this very table!

We've always easily found the metal stands but bases with the original wooden top are harder to come by. I'll bet that's because most people only think the metal is salvageable; a table top in this condition usually ends up in the garbage. Despite the water damage and missing/cracked veneer, I can't wait to show you that there's still plenty of life left in this ol' gal - and the table too! :)

repairing veneer

You really can't go wrong for only $14.99, however we had a lot of veneer repair ahead of us and I've never personally tackled a project like this! Luckily I have a great teacher in Hubs!

With all the condition issues and variety of veneer repair scenarios, it's a great practice piece but not a good candidate for stain so we moved forward with the intention of painting it.

repairing veneer

The lid had this big bubble conveniently cracked down the centre. Were it not for the split, I would have to cut into the bubble to get glue underneath anyway, so in a roundabout way, this was a timesaver! To see just how bad the rest of the table was, there are plenty more pictures on our blog!

repairing veneer

We disassembled the rest of the table into manageable pieces so we could work on repairing each one individually.

Make sure to put any hardware into a sealable bag and label it. Take tons of pictures of the disassembly process so you’ll know exactly how to put it back together again!

repairing veneer

Look over each piece and apply a piece of green tape as a marker so you don’t forget to repair a spot. Nothing’s more frustrating than thinking you’re ready to move onto the next step, but there’s still veneer to glue or fill!

Gluing Veneer

Don’t waste your money on a glue syringe for veneer work unless it has a good selection of thin blunt needles to get into tight spots (we’ll show you what a good set looks like a bit later). I had this particular syringe in my craft stash and quickly discover that it was useless for this purpose!

repairing veneer

In lieu of the proper syringe, the next best thing is to pour some glue into a plastic lid. Use a thin piece of stiff material, such as this laminate edging, to scoop some glue.

repairing veneer

Push it under the veneer as far as you can and move it around. Apply glue as many times as needed to get a good thin coat under the wood. Wipe away any glue that oozes out with a damp cloth.

repairing veneer

The best thing to put right on top of the repair is waxed paper before it’s clamped. We didn’t have waxed paper so improvised with paper and a piece of plastic wrap to prevent sticking to the weight (the glue will seep through). We didn’t have a long enough clamp to reach the middle, so used an antique iron instead (we did use clamps along the edges).

repairing veneer

Once dry, the veneer is nice and flat again. The paper that is stuck to the surface will be sanded right off.

repairing veneer

Missing Veneer

For large pieces of missing veneer, you still must go through the process of gluing down the edges and clamping first as I did above. Then you can tape along the edge with green painters tape.

repairing veneer

Hubs likes to score the field of the repair to provide some tooth for the wood filler to stick to. Use a utility knife to cross hatch as shown.

repairing veneer

With a putty knife that’s as wide as the repair, scoop some filler out of the container and close the lid. Our favourite wood filler by the way is Famowood because it won’t crack or shrink; it also cleans up easily!

Start at one end and make a first pass with the putty knife. Hubs likes to feather the edges of the filler into the tape.

repairing veneer

Don’t worry if it’s a little high on the actual edge. Then you can remove the tape.

repairing veneer

Use the Proper Glue Syringe

I regret not purchasing these glue syringes before getting started because they would have been the ideal tool to fill the bubble I showed you earlier. Sometimes I’m so excited to start a project that I jump ahead before I should!

See how much easier it is to squeeze the glue under the veneer? Wipe the excess off with a damp cloth and clamp as explained earlier. You'll find more info about this great product on our blog.

repairing veneer


Sanding is best done outside where you don’t have to be concerned about kicking up dust. We arranged all our pieces like an assembly line and set up our workbench in the driveway.

For larger pieces like the lid that had the ‘bubbled’ veneer, we used an electric sander to smooth it. Don’t go to town and sand too deep or you’ll go right through the veneer and have to patch again! Use a light touch to get things relatively smooth.

Pieces like the drawers were in good shape. Because the knob was in the way (it’s glued in so can’t be removed), we hand sanded with a fine sanding sponge.

The goal is just to give enough tooth for the primer to stick to the surface. You don’t have to sand the finish back to bare wood.

Glue or Fill?

As we were sanding the drawer surround, a piece of veneer chipped right off the edge. If you happen to have the chipped piece, it’s really up to you whether you want to glue it back or replace it with wood filler. If you’re already at the sanding stage by this point, opt for wood filler. Gluing is a longer, more involved process so if you fill, after 15 minutes of dry time you’ll be caught up again.

Since we already had other things drying that we used the syringe on, we glued and clamped. In this case, hubs just smeared the glue on with his finger; you don’t always need fancy tools 

repairing veneer

The final prep before paint is to prime. We'll discuss that in more detail when we reveal the sewing table! Until then, get your DIY mojo on by subscribing! Follow us on Birdz of a Feather (link below where you see our logo)! You can also follow us on:





Suggested materials:

  • Glue  (Big box store)
  • Clamps  (Big box store)
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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


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Join the conversation

  • Katelyn
    on Oct 16, 2018

    Great tip! Can't wait to see the finished sewing table!

  • William
    on Oct 16, 2018

    Great instructions. So many ways to repair veneer. You show an easy way for the DiY.

    • Birdz of a Feather
      on Oct 16, 2018

      Thanks William! I'd like to try replacing veneer one day too; we just have to find another piece :)

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