1960's Sideboard front view

Mid-century modern teak restoration

Sarah Stahl
Sarah Stahl
Passion for transforming tired, old furniture into bold works of art. Sharing my learning with you.

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Mid-century Modern teak restoration is a great tool to learn as a furniture refinisher.  Firstly my favourite style of furniture is Mid-Century Modern.  I have in my own living space 3 vintage pieces and a number of reproductions.  I adore the clean lines, the teak and dark woods, as well as the tapered legs. It is no shock to me that this decade of furniture has become massively popular. 

Due to it’s popularity I had never found a piece which I could justify the cost of purchasing  for refinishing.  I had also never found a piece I felt really required refinishing.  It’s a vintage style that can fit well in a modern home and therefore no real refinishing is needed to keep it out of the landfill. 

1960's Sideboard badly damaged

Table of Contents

Mid-Century Modern Dreams

Fast forward to the middle of summer 2022 when I found a mid-century modern sideboard in my local town being advertised on market place.  And boy was it in rough shape.  It looked like a dog had chewed at the corners, the veneer was splitting in multiple areas or simply missing.  Both doors where off and the hinges missing or broken.  It was in a sad state for such a beautiful piece of furniture.  Unfortunately the asking price was still rather high and not something I could consider paying and reselling.  

But I waited and kept an eye on the advertisement, for weeks, then months.  Due to the missing veneer and broken doors, no one was seeing the potential in the piece.  Or perhaps, I was the only one who was brave enough to take on such a large mid-century modern teak restoration? It was not going to be a a job where filler and blending would be sufficient.

Mid-Century Modern Teak Restoration

When the piece was home, I jumped onto the project immediately.  Like I tend to do with every new and exciting project.  Patience is not my strength.   

It however, became apparent to me, that this was not just simple veneer edging repairs that were needed.  This was a new level of veneer damage for me.  Therefore, I decided to wait on this project and spend time researching what would be the best way to tackle the necessary repairs. 

The biggest challenge would be the substrate under the veneer.  It was chip board and damaged.  It would have to be repaired prior to new veneer being possible.

split veneer over damaged particle board.
split veneer over damaged particle board.

I asked around the local refinishing company and found not so much help or tips on repairing particle board and damaged veneer. So here is where YouTube came in very handy.  I had to learn how to fix and stabilize the particle board before I could address the veneer issue. 

So I took time to learn and it was nearly 6 months later before I felt that I was ready to tackle this sideboard in the way it deserved.

In the end I repaired the particle board edges with wood glue (a lot!) and clamps.  Once the edges dried and harden I could lightly sand and add wood filler in the right colour to ensure I had the correct depth for the new veneer to match the old. 

damaged veneer banding, you can see the particle board underneath
ironing the new veneer into place
close up of repaired veneer
Veneer repairs after colour matching
Top Door during repair work
Veneer repairs after colour matching
Top Door after repairs and blending work

How to Repair Veneer

For full details on how I repaired the veneer, please check out the following articles to help you on your veneer repair journey.

The unforeseen restoration hurdle

The majority of headaches caused by this piece was not the veneer in the end.  It was the hardware!  As I was missing a number of the original mid century modern hardware, I had to swap out all the hardware on the doors and drawers (excluding the sliding doors).  This meant filling and blending the original hardware holes and making new holes, as the old hardware did not meet the new size standards.  Drilling hardware holes always makes me sweat.  It’s a personal nightmare that I may miss measured and end up needing to refill and start all over. 

And finally all the hinges had to all be replaced.  More filling original screw holes and more drilling required.  Thankfully once all done, the doors fit perfectly in place.  Something that does not always go smoothly when replacing hinges. All in all the hardware alone took me a couple of weeks to swap out.  Far longer then I thought it would. It was important to me that for this mid-century modern restoration was a success.

Midcentury modern after refinishing and restoration work, with water based top coat
1960's Sideboard drinks cabinet with original plastic
mid-century modern sideboard

In the end I staged this piece in my living room and my husband couldn’t believe the transformation.  We had a moment where we considered if we could make the space necessary to keep this piece at home.  That didn’t happen though as I reached out to an individual whom had unfortunately missed out on a previous cabinet.  I wanted to provide a first look opportunity.  

That first look became a purchase and this piece was off to it’s new home before I had finalized my photos.   It didn’t surprise me that someone would fall in love with this mid-century modern beauty.  

Expand your Teak Knowledge

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