repair bubbled veneer pin

Repair Bubbled Veneer

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

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Over the years veneer can crack, bubble, chip and peel. And while there is a variety of ways which veneer can be damaged, it can also be fixed. Repair bubbled veneer is a very handy skill to learn.

Table of Contents

What is bubbled Veneer?

Bubbled veneer can occur in a variety of ways. It could be due to water damaged, the glue loosening over time or long standing air bubbles.  

I have even had new veneer bubbled, so it is not only an issue for refinishers.  

Often you cannot even see a veneer bubble but only detect it by feel and sound.  When you run your hand over veneer, it should feel like a solid mass.  If you feel a bubble or hear a crinkle when you run your hand over veneer, you have found a bubble. 

Large bubbles can be visible and you can feel the air under the veneer, locked between the veneer and substrate.  Small bubbles, you may only feel a faint depression or hear the crinkle. 

Why do you need to repair bubbled veneer?

So, you’ve found a veneer bubble.  It’s not noticeable, so why bother fixing it?

If you leave the veneer bubble, the veneer around it could continue to fail.  Over time you could have a larger issue then the smaller bubble you initially found. 

Planning on refinishing a piece of furniture with bubbled veneer? Should you sand a veneer bubble, you will quickly find that the whole section of veneer will open up or even rip off.  When veneer is not fixed on the substrate it can shift and will cause damage to the veneer.  If you wish to keep the veneer in good condition, you will need to repair it prior to sanding. 

Easy Step by Step repair bubbled veneer

Cut into the bubble

In order to repair the veneer bubble, you will to take your sharp utility knife and cut into the bubble.

You want your cut to be straight and large enough to get into the whole bubble.  

Cut into bubble in veneer to repair it

Use a syringe

Fill your syringe with wood glue that works with veneer.  Slide the needle into the cut you created and dispense the wood glue. 

Syringe filled with glue

Massage glue

Rub the air bubble gently.  You want to shift the wood glue around and fully coat the area of the bubble. You know that you have enough glue when a little seeps out when you apply pressure to the bubble to close it.

Glue seeps out of the cut to repair bubbled veneer

Apply Pressure

Now apply pressure until the wood glue is dried.  

First apply a piece of wax paper or painters tape between the veneer and a piece of wood which will apply pressure over the length of the bubble. I apply wax paper in between in order to ensure that any glue that seeps out will not dry to the wood I use.

Then apply your clamps. The more the better.

clamp bubbled veneer to repair it
veneer repair being fixed

Final Steps

When enough time has passed for the glue to dry, remove the clamps and the wax paper.  Run your fingers over the location of the air bubble.  You should no longer feel or hear the bubble. 

If the area you cut left a raised edge, you will need to lightly sand it. Read all about how to sand veneer here. 

Don't Throw away that Syringe

After you have applied the wood glue, don’t throw away the syringe.  You can fill the syringe with warm water and push the remaining glue slowly out.  Repeat this step until you have pushed all the glue out and only water is running through. 

Allow the syringe to dry and keep it for the next time you need to use it. 

Wood glue in syringe for repairing bubbled veneer

Additional Veneer Topics

Final Thoughts

Repairing bubbled veneer is probably one of the easiest veneer repairs to make.  Finding a piece of furniture with bubbled veneer is a good thing!  Many people will pass it up, while you now know it’s a quick and easy veneer repair to make. 

Repairs which require replacing old veneer with new veneer are far harder to accomplish as you will need to colour match the new and old veneer. 

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