How to repair chipped veneer with new wood veneer

Repairing chipped veneer may seem daunting, but it can be an easy fix with some basic tools and techniques.

 

A veneer is a thin layer of wood applied over a substrate. Over the years, the veneer can become damaged on a piece of furniture. The most common problem is chipped or missing veneer from impact and general wear and tear. 

 

This guide will walk you through the step-by-step process of repairing chipped veneer with a piece of new wood veneer. For this fix, you can leave the wood filler or epoxy putty in its drawer, as we will be fixing the damage in a way that lets the natural wood shine.

Table of Contents

Assess the Damage Veneer

Take the time to carefully inspect the chipped veneer before starting the repair. For minimal areas, it may be best to use a filler product and paint to blend the area in. You may replace the entire surface with a new veneer for extremely large areas of damage. This would simplify trying to match the grain pattern over a larger surface. However, this method is the perfect solution for small to medium areas of chipped veneer. 

 

Before starting, you want to check the overall condition of the veneer, which you do not plan on replacing. Take any necessary steps to ensure the vintage veneer remains in good condition and no further repairs are needed. Glue down any peeling veneer, repair bubbled veneer and take care of any dents in the veneer.  

assess the damage before repairing chipped veneer

You want to ensure the remaining veneer is in good condition before making your repair. There is no sense in making a repair only to realize that the rest of the veneer is damaged and will require replacing. 

Determine the type of wood veneer you are working with

Matching your new veneer to the old is crucial to make the repair appear seamless. You will need to look at the overall grain pattern and the type of wood veneer you are working with. Identifying the wood types will be necessary for making veneer repairs.

 

Replacing and colour-matching teak with teak or red oak with red oak will be easier than if you used any other type of veneer you have lying around. 

Hardwax oil finish on teak veneer.
The piece being repaired is teak

Tools you will need

The right tools are half the project.  The list necessary for this project is small and you should have everything already available in your refinishing tool kit. 

Contact Cement

Plus, make sure you have the following items on hand.

Pencil – just your standard pencil

Veneer – raw veneer that matches your project

Sandpaper 

Finish of choice

Video Tutorial

Check out this step-by-step video tutorial to help you repair chipped veneer furniture. 

Start with removing the damaged veneer

Cut the damaged veneer larger in triangle shape

You will need to cut the damaged veneer further. Now, don’t panic! Often, veneer chips in a straight line. When replacing the veneer, this straight line is easier to detect with the eye. You want to have an angled line for your repair. This means the shape you will replace will be more triangular than square.

 

Now don’t panic!

Yes, we will be making your chipped area even larger.  But by adjusting the small chip into a shape which is easier to mask, will provide the best results.

 

Assess where you want to make your cut. Use a metal ruler for guidance, and slice the veneer with a sharp utility knife. You want your cut to be slightly slanted with the utility knife. Straight 90-degree angles are more noticeable and don’t blend seamlessly. 

slice away the damaged veneer

The veneer may not simply fall off. You can make mutliple slices in the veneer that you wish to remove and it will become easier to cut away. When using a utility knife, always work away from yourself!

 

Once all the damaged veneer is removed, use sandpaper at a low grit, like 80 to 120, and sand the area carefully. 

sand the exposed susbstrate smooth to repair the chipped veneer

Make a tape template

use a pencil to rub an outline of the removed veneer

Once the repair area is ready, place a piece of painter’s tape over the edge of the veneer that you just cut. Press the tape down well, and then, using a pencil you want to rub lightly on the taped-over the edge. You are making an imprint of the line that you need to match the new veneer against. 

 

Make sure the template you create extends slightly beyond the damaged area. A border around the repair will allow you to trim the replacement veneer piece to an exact fit after glueing it. Be careful when peeling up the tape template, as you want to keep the pencil outline intact. 

 

Now, you have a template pattern to follow that will allow you to cut the new veneer to the same size and shape as the necessary repair. 

remove the tape carefully not to damage the tape template

Choose a New Piece of Veneer

Take your replacement veneer and look for the best matching section. You want to match up noticeable wood grain patterns and predominate colours. Look for darker or lighter grain running through the old veneer, which should be repeated on the new veneer. 

 

The direction of the wood grain in the replacement veneer should align seamlessly with the intact veneer. Look for subtle details like knots and the overall textured look. Matching subtle details will help create a seamless look for the repair.

 

Don’t worry if you can’t find an exact replica. If the colour and grain pattern are not a perfect match, you can use dyeing, staining, and touch-up marker techniques to improve the match and make the repair blend better. 

 

When you have found a suitable section, place the tape template you created onto the section of the new veneer in the direction you wish the new veneer to go. 

choose a new piece of veneer with similar grain pattern

Cut a Replacement Piece of Veneer

Place the tape template on top of the new veneer, lining it up exactly where you’ll need to cut. Use a sharp utility knife to carefully cut along the template’s edges. Cut all the way through the veneer in one smooth motion. Going too slow or making multiple passes can cause the veneer to splinter. 

 

Be very precise when cutting the new piece – any inaccuracies will result in a poor fit with the existing veneer. 

 

Remember to keep your utility knife angled in the opposite direction from where you initially made the cut on the old veneer. This will ensure that the two cuts line up smoothly and overlap slightly. The goal is to create clean, angled cuts that will allow the new veneer patch to fit tightly against the existing veneer.

 

If the cut does not go well, you can try again by creating a new tape template and finding a new piece of matching veneer. 

slice along the tape template to cut your new piece of veneer for your repair

Glue the New Piece of Veneer

Before using glue, I like to check if the new piece of veneer matches well by placing it in the location. As you have yet to sand, colour match, or add a finish, it will not be a perfect match. You are simply checking that the edges of the old veneer and new veneer match up well with no gaps.

 

I like to use contact cement rather than wood glue for these minor repairs. It eliminates the need for wood clamps and waiting. When working with contact cement, read the directions and remember to work fast. When placed in a location, the glue should almost immediately harden, so placing the new veneer correctly is critical.

add contact cement for a quick glue job

Apply a thin, even layer of contact cement to both the back of the new veneer piece and the exposed substrate. Allow both surfaces to become tacky. Read the directions for your specific contact cement. 

 

When both surfaces are tacky to the touch, carefully align the new veneer piece. Press firmly from the centre outward to remove any air bubbles and ensure a tight bond.

 

Hold in place with pressure for at least 60 seconds. Some excess glue may seep out around the edges – wipe this away with a damp cloth.

 

Allow the contact cement adhesive to fully cure. The bonded veneer piece should feel completely secured, with no lifting of edges.

apply the new veneer to the space to repair the chipped veneer

Sand Lightly and Remove any Hang Over

Once the glue has fully dried and the new veneer piece is firmly attached, lightly sand the edges. Use fine-grit sandpaper and sand in the grain direction.

 

Focus on softly blending and smoothing the transition between the old and new veneer pieces. You don’t need to remove much material; delicately sweep back and forth over the seam to meld the two pieces together. 

REmove excess veneer with a sharp utility knife

If your new veneer includes an overhang, you will want to remove it at this stage.  Cut excess overhang with a sharp utility knife and follow through with sanding. 

Sand the exposed edging

Colour Matching

staining the piece of veneer to better match the colour

If the new veneer piece is slightly off in colour, you can dye it before glueing it in place to improve the match. Using a wood dye allows you to alter the colour of the raw veneer so that it blends with the surrounding area once installed. With the correct dye, you can effectively change the new veneer to be virtually indistinguishable from the original after it is glued and installed. Taking the time to correctly colour match will lead to a barely noticeable repair upon close inspection.

 

When the new piece of veneer is in place, I will occasionally use touch-up markers to draw in lines of grain that may still be needed or darken the grain in the replaced veneer. I recommend using these markers, as the lines they produce are fine. 

colour matching the new piece of veneer to the old

Add your Finish

As a final step, you want to add your finish. As our eyes can detect differences in sheen more easily than differences in colour, this may be the most important step. Ensure your finish is the same as the original, or if you are working on bare wood, then refinish the rest of the piece the same way.  Take a step back, the repaired area should be blended into the rest of the surface.  

Add the finish to match the finish on the rest of the piece

Final Thoughts

Replacing veneer can appear daunting, but with patience and care, you can repair chipped veneer in a nearly invisible way. The end result will be a veneer that looks seamless with no sign of damage. Imagine being able to repair rather than paint over that vintage wood grain, allowing for the natural wood to shine. 

Final result of repairing chipped Veneer
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Hey, I'm Sarah, the owner of Bold Wallflowers.

I'm on a self-taught journey through furniture refinishing and restoration, loving every experiment in my workshop.

Join me as I share my discoveries and gained knowledge with our vibrant community of fellow refinishers!

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