Asked on Sep 07, 2013

I really need help with raised veneer from moisture!

I bought this vintage chippendale mahogany partner's desk today at an outdoor market and before it was delivered it got damaged by the rain. The top is not too bad but the sides are "bumpy" where the veneer has been affected by the moisture. There are no splits or bubbles that I can see but rather a sort of all-over roughness. Can anyone give detailed advice on how to correct this without refinishing/sanding? I heard that you can re-wet it and weight it but I'm not quite sure how to go about it. Thank you!
  11 answers
  • Mary Insana Mary Insana on Sep 07, 2013
    Was this bought new? If it was you can probably call the store and tell them what happened, especially if it was delivered by the stores delivery men. They should have taken precautions for it not to get wet. If it was bought as a used item maybe it was already damaged and you didn't notice it .Doesn't seem like rain could cause that much damage unless it was sitting outside or not dried off immediately upon delivery.
  • I am with Mary on this one that it could have had damage before and the rain made it worse. Getting caught in a rain shower does not usually affect furniture that fast especially if it was delivered and dried off. Short of refinishing it, there is nothing to do. There are no quick fixes for veneer that I have ever seen. DO NOT WET IT again. That will just cause the veneer to bubble even more since it is glue on and wood and moisture do not go well together. You could find the highest /finest grit sandpaper and lightly sand it to see if you can smooth out the roughness. If it is new, then the store is responsible. If it was used, then I would find out what the store policy is. Good luck
  • Porta Verde Studio Porta Verde Studio on Sep 07, 2013
    Hi, this is a vintage piece. I bought it from a vendor at an outside sale and before it was delivered, they got rained on. I edited this post to give more of a background. I was told by some old-time woodworkers that misting the veneer with water will soften it enough for it to lay flat if it's pressed. I've used water on veneer with heat before to raise the grain and to get out water stains so I'm thinking it may work.
    • Karen Mortimore Karen Mortimore on Sep 09, 2013
      @Porta Verde Studio I've used the method Sherrie used ( found below) and it worked out really well, just make sure before you put the block on with the clamp there is no glue on the surface. glue doesn't take stain. Good luck, this is a beautiful piece
  • Sherrie Sherrie on Sep 09, 2013
    I copied this from This Old House The top on many tables, dressers, desks, and other furniture is made of a thin wood veneer glued to a solid-wood or processed-wood substrate. Over time, the glue bond often fails and the veneer blisters — especially when subjected to heat and moisture (such as a cup of hot tea or coffee). To repair a veneer blister, carefully slit it open with a razor knife. Then use a glue syringe or a toothpick to apply yellow carpenter's glue beneath the veneer. Press down lightly on the blister to spread the glue. Cover the repair with wax paper and a flat wood block, then clamp the blister flat. Let the glue cure overnight. Then remove the clamp and wax paper, and lightly sand and refinish the surface. Prevent new blisters by applying two coats of varnish or hand-rubbed wood oil on the veneer — and keeping anything hot or wet off the surface. I purchased this exact table two weeks ago with the chair. I got it home and what I couldn't see there I saw at home. Overspray all over this beautiful table. What started out as a simple fix turned into a big fat mess. I tried several simple things but also could see where he had used a polyurethane on it and it had white streaks little ones but enough to make me nuts. So I used a fine 220 grit sand paper. Didn't work so being very careful I stripped it with just the chemical. Prefect! Took off the poly and needed to re-stain it. I used a new stain a gel stain and the stain within minutes raised the grain and was a nightmare to get off, I wanted a wood top to show for this table. I ended up chipping the top. I can either replace the veneer or paint it. Just a little bit of liquid in these tops will raise the veneer I shouldn't have done the staining for a couple of days or used a new one. But I needed the stain since it was veneer to lay on the top not be penatrating. Dang it! Good luck!
  • Loribeth Loribeth on Sep 09, 2013
    Since it is a vintage piece, you might be able to get away with just a hot iron, no steam. Put a lint-free towel over the area, and iron it. The heat from the iron softens the original glue. Then put a weight on it, to help the newly softened glue stick. I did this with our 1920s mahogany table we bought on craigslist, and it worked perfectly in some areas, and not so well in other areas. It all depends on the glue and the amount of damage. But I would try this method first, because there is less risk involved for the finish. If it doesn't work, the only thing you've lost is a little bit of time, and you can go on to try some of the other suggestions.
  • Leona G Leona G on Sep 09, 2013
    If using a hot dry iron doesn't work you can try slitting the bubble, inserting some glue, they used hide glue in the olden days, roll with a small rolling pin to spread the glue. Place a piece of wax paper over the repair and use a piece of wood that is larger than the repair and clamp it done for at least 24 hours. If any glue seeps out use a paint scrapper to remove it. Good luck. Or if you don't want to diy you could get a professional at one of the antique stores to fix it
  • Bonnie D Bonnie D on Sep 09, 2013
    You can put some wood glue in a hypodermic needle and fill the bubble. Weight down with some books or what ever you can find that will cover the area. Leave as long as possible. You want the glue to dry. This is one of those 'don't rush' projects. Desk looks like it is worth it.
  • Kathleen63 Kathleen63 on Sep 10, 2013
    I agree with JESS, it is a gorgeous piece! And seek a pro. :)
  • Norma Perez Norma Perez on Sep 10, 2013
    Here is a link to a web page about repairing different types of wood furniture, there is a big section dedicated to veneer. I hope this helps you!
  • Porta Verde Studio Porta Verde Studio on Sep 11, 2013
    Thank you ALL so much for your input. I ended selling the desk in its current state without doing anything to it.
  • Valerie Valerie on Jul 17, 2014
    I wondered whether the information in this post would help for the next time you have the same problem: