As you may know, in addition to farmhouse finds, I also refurbish furniture. I don’t work on many pieces during the year because:
1. Bringing these pieces back to life requires a lot of time and work
2. It’s not always easy to find good pieces. I generally prefer to work on antique pieces of furniture.
Having said that, when I do find some good pieces I always run into technical challenges. No doubt, you have too. The good news is that old furniture is almost always really well made. Solid wood and solid construction. Usually the damage is superficial or cosmetic. Underneath the damage – there is beauty waiting to come out. Recently, I have started work on an antique pedestal table.
I believe it was made during the late Victorian era. In order to repair the table, I had to separate the top from the base.
Side of the table top with chipped veneer
One of the biggest challenges in repairing old furniture is addressing chipped or split or flaking wood veneer. The photo above shows the side edge of the top portion of the table. The purpose of this post is to give you some techniques for repairing damaged veneer. First, you must remove all the loose and damaged veneer. This sounds simple. Right? It can actually be challenging. It might require a putty knife and a bit of chiseling to loosen and remove the veneer. Keep at it.
Once the veneer has been removed, you will need to sand down the piece of furniture. Use a tack cloth to clear off any sawdust or particles. Once the surface is sanded and clean, you will then need to fill in some low spots or damaged areas with wood filler. Apply the filler, let it dry and then sand it down. I use 150 grit for the initial sanding. If necessary, apply another layer of filler, let it dry and then sand it down. Repeat as necessary. For the final sanding I use 220 grit and try to get the seam as close to the existing wood as possible. Here is a photo of the top of the table before the veneer was removed.
Top of the table with chipped veneer and water ring
I have found, when working with old furniture that has chipped veneer, which needs to be removed and/or repaired, the pieces generally need to be painted. Sorry all you wood enthusiasts out there! When there are many repairs to the wood, staining a piece of furniture never looks quite right. So, I prefer to paint these repaired pieces of furniture. The way I view it, by painting the piece of furniture, I am still giving it another life and hoping it will last another 20 to 50 years. So, painting the piece of furniture is better than the other alternative which usually involves a trip to the landfill!
Although this piece is still a work-in-progress, you can see how it is coming along. Stay tuned for the final result! I will post some “after” photos when I am done sanding, painting and sealing the entire table.
One leg of the table painted with milk paint
Base of table repaired and painted