How to remove wood veneer from wood furniture

in , , by Julie Nichols, April 24, 2017
Hi friends, the weather has been gorgeous here in New York and that means I get to work outside on a furniture project!  Did you know that under peeling and cracking veneer there is good wood? Veneer lifts and cracks from moisture and can be removed completely with a wet towel and a metal putty knife. A few years back I picked up an antique night table on the side of the road. (You can read the posts here Shabby Roadside Find and Shabby Table & Petunias)  There was some peeling and cracking of the veneer on the top and bottom, but the overall piece is solid wood and has gorgeous carvings on the legs.  I thought maybe I could give this piece some love with a quick sanding, but the damage was worse than I thought, so the veneer needed to come off.

 I'm guessing that the table might have been left outside or stored in a damp basement for a long time to cause the veneer to peel.

Well, if moisture causes the veneer to peel, then this wet towel will help to take it all off!

First I placed a hot wet towel on the bottom shelf and waited about 15 minutes. Then I used my putty knife to lift the veneer. This was my first time doing this sort of thing so I wasn't sure how long to wait before doing this step. The edges of the veneer lifted easily, however the middle was a bit of a challenge.

For this stubborn piece, I poured boiling water right on top of the veneer and used the putty knife to peel it off.  Then I worked on to the top of the table, the sides and the drawer.

The veneer on the top of the table was a beast to remove!  There were three layers of it plus a lot of glue.

The veneer on the side and the drawer were easy to peel off.

The decorative wood on the drawer was cracked in different places, so I completely removed it.


Here is the table after the veneer was removed.



Next, I will give this night table several coats of polyurethane.  I hope you come back again to see how it looks. When this project is complete it is going to the newly renovated Guest Bedroom
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  1. such a great find, sweet little makeover, love the tips!

    1. I'm so glad I scooped it up! Happy to share my tips! Thank you for stopping by.

  2. I've only removed veneer one time and it took forever!!!!! Your table is adorable.

    1. Mine took a lot of elbow grease only on the part that was heavily glued. Thank you so much for the visit!

  3. UGH, I hate veneer. I've never seem to get it all off. I'll try the boiling water tip next time though. Thanks Julie

  4. Wow, great find. I'm never that lucky. So glad that I found your blog. I'm attempting to refinish furnish, so this is information that I needed to know. Please share your posts on my Sunday's Best linkup. We're live! Starts every Saturday at 8:00 PM EST.

    1. Thank you for the visit! I'm happy this post was helpful to you! Sometimes that's all you need is a little inspiration to get a project started. Have fun with your furniture refinish and thank you for the invite to your link party!



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