I mentioned on Wednesday that my cute little typewriter stand (read it here if you missed it) came with a wood top that was not in the greatest shape.
One half was worn and slightly stained and pretty much exactly how I want all my old wood pieces to be – this also happened to be the only portion visible when I spotted it buried beneath a bunch of stuff in the shop. But on the other half (the hidden beneath a pile of stuff half) was the cracked, splintered, peeling remains of the original veneer. I had never removed veneer before, but half the work had already been done for me, so I figured I could probably handle the task and decided to bring that table home and just go for it.
Often times, even if the veneer is chipped or cracked or broken, a perfectly good layer of wood exists underneath – you just might have to put in a little bit of elbow grease to get to it. And I found out that removing it is really not that bad – I kind of enjoyed the process and found it to be a great stress reliever.
When I bought the table, I imagined myself working away in the basement, music going, chipping away at that old veneer with no care or worry about the mess I was creating. Instead, I found myself sitting in my dining room on a quiet Friday evening, wood splinters flying everywhere and a giant mess being left on my not so new dining room rug.
You know how you see just a small chip in the nail polish on one nail so you pick at it and then next thing you know all ten fingers are missing most of their polish? That’s kind of what happened here. I was carrying this table up to the bedroom just to see what I thought about using it as a nightstand when I decided to pull a particularly loose piece of veneer. Which then led to me taking a seat in a dining room chair and pulling away more veneer. After giving myself a few splinters and pulling away all the veneer I could by hand, I grabbed a scraper.
Holding the scraper as horizontally as I could (you don’t want to gouge the wood underneath) I started scraping away.
To make this part go a bit more smoothly, I grabbed a hammer and gently tapped the bottom of the scraper (still holding it horizontally – I got carried away at one point and dug a bit out of the top of my table, but we’ll just call that character, right?) to help make getting under and lifting the veneer easier. I continued working my way across the top of the table until the majority of the veneer was gone and I had sufficiently whacked myself in the hand with the hammer a dozen times or so.
At this point, I had a few random patches of veneer and a fair amount of spots where the old adhesive was leftover and did not want to budge.
This next part is the best part, so you’ll want to remember this…
I remembered that we had a terrible time removing an old, sticky, tar-like layer from the wood floors in the kitchen of our Michigan house. We tried everything on this stuff. It just gummed up the sand paper on the sander almost instantly, it laughed in the face of even the most abrasive stripper, and you could spend hours scraping and only uncover the smallest little square of floor. So when I found an online forum somewhere that suggested orange pumice hand cleaner and wax paper, we had little hope that something that simple would ever work.
But work it did.
And not only did it work, it worked really well.
I’m pretty sure this can be used any time you have an old adhesive you want to remove from something. Here’s what you do:
Slather a layer of orange pumice hand cleaner (I used Zep brand) over areas with the adhesive.
Cover with wax paper.
Let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour – about the amount of time it takes to watch an episode of your current binge-worthy show.
By this time, the adhesive should have softened and you can take your scraper and literally run it across the top to remove any excess chunks of veneer, glue, etc.
Wipe off any excess cleaner with a damp rag and you’re good to go.
Non-toxic and smells good to boot – if I had thought of it sooner, I would have scraped a little less and let the cleaner do more of the work.
I did give this top a light and quick pass with a sanding block just to remove any little bumps leftover and it came out smooth as can be.
Now that I know how simple this can be, you better believe next time I see a great piece of furniture with a splintered and messy wood top I won’t think twice about bringing it home. 😀