close up of a table with veneer inlay in a decorative pattern around the edge. The center is square pattern to create 3d cube effects.

Wood Veneer Inlay Makeover

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

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Years of grime on wood veneer inlay

When I came across this table I couldn’t help but pause.  I have a secret love for wood veneer inlay.  It is a true artistry to create designs and motifs through the use of different woods. 

There was no need to refinish the table in my usual fashion.  In fact it would be sacrilege to paint over such a gorgeous pattern already. I only wanted to bring this beauty back to it’s original glory.

So once I secured this piece at home, I faced the challenge of restoration.

Veneer inlay table prior to refinishing process. Years of wax build up created dark, grim patches
shellac being brushed on a wood veneer inlay table

Furniture wax build-up

The table top was dark with years of wax build up. It was years of grim turning the wood underneath dark, like a stain. 

I  removed the wax by using White Spirits and steel wool.  There is no real secret here, other then hard work, scrubbing at the stains and slowly working layer after layer of wax and dirt away.  Taking the time in-between to wash with warm water and plenty of drying time.  After all, moisture is veneer’s greatest enemy. I did not want to risk damaging the wood veneer inlay in any way.

Once I was satisfied that I had removed as much of the stain as possibly, did I pick up the sander. Using the lightest touch and highest grit, I sanded the whole table top.

For the honey glow I added clear shellac.  If you want to know more regarding shellac, check out last month’s in-depth article.  For protection I sealed the whole table with three coats of Polyvine’s Wax Finish Varnish.  A favourite top coat of mine.

Giving the base a new colour

full view of wood veneer inlay table including staging material of books and flowers in vases.

I wanted to create a modern version of the table and highlight the wood veneer inlay.  The easiest way to achieve this was to create a neutral base to emphasize the top. 

Therefore, I cleaned and sanded back the legs and base of the table to prepare them for painting.  I chose a dark grey called Ash by fusion mineral paint for the base colour and sealed it with another three coats of the Wax Finish Varnish from Polyvine. 

As a final detail, I added gold details on the feet in Vintage Gold from Fusion Mineral Paint. 

close up of the table edge showing the wood veneer inlay after restoration.
Close up from top view of a wood veneer inlay table after restoration work.
veneer inlay table, decorative wood or wood in patterns is one way to tell veneer from solid wood
close up of restored veneer inlay on a table top.

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