Saving Old Veneer in Three Easy Steps. The easy way to renovate old wood.

In today’ss, design world lot’s of people are showing off the wood!

Today, with modern tools and eco-friendly products it is easy to save a lot of that old veneer.

Many of the projects we have found recently have some great old veneers buried under decades of dirt and oily furniture polish, with failing varnish and shellac on top. So how to get rid of this mess, and clean up the furniture (AKA prepping) without making yourself crazy, doing to much work, or heaven forbid ruining the veneer.

Step 1

Clean with warm water and TSP. Then wipe down the surface with some orderless mineral spirits. After cleaning you can usually figure out if the wood is salvageable or not. Sometimes it is just so damaged it is better to scuff it up and paint it.

Other times, you can find the most amazing patterns and designs under all that dirt.

Step 2

Start the sanding process. I use a Festool sander starting with 320 grit. Remove any and all old varnish without digging into the veneer. Be careful sanding on the edges and do not push the sander around. Slowly and carefully let the tools do their work.

Once you have finished with removing most of the old finish, start hand sanding with 320 grit and make certain all the varnish is removed.

Finally to smooth out the surface go to 400 then 600 grit sandpaper.  We want to have these lovely designs feel as smooth as a babies bottom.

Step 3

Apply Miss Mustard Seed Tung oil with a brush and for the first coat use wet and dry sandpaper to wet sand it into the surface. Two or three coasts is preferred.

Once the oil is cured it provides a lovely water-resistant surface that is great for chests, bureau tops, and drawer fronts.  On tabletops, I usually add a final coat of bee’s wax for extra protection.


Below are some of the other lovely veneers we have saved this year.

XOXO Lydia

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