I wasn’t quite sure what to expect at first, but I had my supplies ready: a pair of drawers, a wet towel and… a chisel. Turns out I was missing my iron though.
What?! How else did you think I was going to strip veneer??? Get your head out of the gutter… There was a bit of pain involved – some blood, some near tears, and there may have been some cursing. But after all was said and done, it really went pretty well, with a few lessons learned the along the way. I have shared those below.
I acquired this dresser this fall and finally got to tackle it this weekend. I was a little intimidated by the peeling and chipping veneer on the drawer fronts – the top two drawers had badly chipping veneer and the two large drawers veneer was almost completely loose.
I pulled off most of the veneer from the large drawers and sanded off the small amount that remained. Then my attention returned to the top two drawers.
A while back, I had found this link on Pinterest to DecorAdventures showing how to easily remove veneer. I read thru it, pinned it, and made a mental note for later. Now as I sat looking at this refusing-to-budge veneer, I (thought I) remembered how to remove it. I didn’t even consider going back to read through the pin. (Lesson 1.) The way I remembered it was this – get a towel, wet it with warm water – not soaking but wet enough, lay it on the veneer for a while and allow the water to unstick the waterbased glue. The complete instruction is this: wet the wood a bit, wet a towel, iron the wet towel while placed on the veneer, scrape the veneer with a chisel or putty knife, repeat until all veneer is removed. Iron! I forgot the iron. Oops.
So here we are, and my way (without the iron) is what I can comment on. As I said earlier, it wasn’t terrible. I laid the warm wet towel onto the two drawer fronts with the sticking veneer and left them alone for a while. Every 20 min or so I would go scrape what I could, rewet the towel, and repeat. The way I figure it, if I had used an iron, it would have been about the same amount of work, plus the constant need to stand there and iron… and quite frankly, I iron enough. But again, I don’t know whether it would have been easier. Perhaps the scraping would have required less elbow grease using a steam iron. I’ll just have to wait until I get another piece of dilapidated furniture and see. I’m sure it won’t be long.
So after all the veneer was removed, there was just mushy glue and little leftover veneer bits to sand off once it dried. The false “perfection” of the veneer was replaced with beautiful rustic grainy drawer fronts. Come back for the dresser reveal – you will be amazed.
This experience taught me a few things – these are the Lessons I have to share:
1) Follow directions – this may have been easier if I had reviewed the directions and done this process completely, using an iron on the wet towel.
2) Always make sure your chisel is sharp – it will save you aggravation and sharp is safer.
3) Wear gloves – preferably leather gloves to protect your knuckles if/when the chisel slips – I may or may not have scraped a knuckle or two on the edges of the drawer this way. Good thing I had Hello Kitty Band-Aids on hand… (they must have been on sale – I have a house full of boys).
4) Use an old towel – the glue gets soft and sticks to it.
5) Make sure you have enough time – it did take a bit longer than I thought it would.
I hope this helps, and even though I missed a step, the moral of the story is water (with or without the combination of steam) breaks up the glue used on veneer very nicely.
That, my friends, is my stripping story. Follow my blog by entering your email address on the right – don’t miss the full dresser reveal. It’s really a beautiful Revival.