How to Remove Wood Veneer

Less than five minutes from my house lives a very unique "flea market" store. It's exactly what it sounds like -- flea market in store form -- except instead of somewhat organized booths selling random crap, it's a completely disorganized building with so much junk stuffed in it you can barely walk around.

Now, this kind of place is my mother's area of expertise. So as you might expect, the first time she visited she wasted absolutely no time bussing herself over to see what the flea market had to offer. When she returned, it was with at least a couple things she did not need, including, but not limited to, this table:

Learn how to remove veneer with this quick and easy side table makeover. Thrifted from a flea market, the nightstand was in terrible shape, but a little work goes a long way! #thrifted #furnitureflip

It looks nice from afar, but once you're actually sitting next to it, you can see that the veneer is not in great shape.

Learn how to remove veneer with this quick and easy side table makeover. Thrifted from a flea market, the nightstand was in terrible shape, but a little work goes a long way! #thrifted #furnitureflip
Learn how to remove veneer with this quick and easy side table makeover. Thrifted from a flea market, the nightstand was in terrible shape, but a little work goes a long way! #thrifted #furnitureflip

The table's lived like this up at our Wisconsin cabin for the last year or so, but this summer, I decided to do something about.

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How To Remove Veneer
Materials
  • Heat Gun- My dad let me borrow this one from Harbor Freight. It worked just fine for this little project, though I have no idea how it holds up long term. 
  • Chisel/Prybar/Putty Knife
  • Orbital Sander- I love my Dewalt Orbital Sander. I used to have a cheaper one that took forever to sand. This one works so much better, and I'm so glad I splurged on it!
Get Started!

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Step 1: Warm the Veneer

I started by using my heat gun to warm up the veneer. The heat melts the adhesive, making the veneer easier to remove. It also melts/deforms any finish that's been applied, so it starts looking a bit bubbly.

Learn how to remove veneer with this quick and easy side table makeover. Thrifted from a flea market, the nightstand was in terrible shape, but a little work goes a long way! #thrifted #furnitureflip

For the most part, the veneer I was removing was pretty loose already, so the lowest level of the heat gun was more than enough. You might to use the higher setting if your veneer is better adhered than mine, though.

Step 2: Pry Off the Veneer

Starting at the edges, slowly lift the veneer off of the furniture. I had the most luck with a putty knife, but a chisel or prybar could work too. I moved slowly, doing my best to keep the veneer in one piece. When my putty knife couldn't reach any further into the veneer, I'd start lifting it off with my hands instead. Sometimes, I got lucky and it came away in large pieces!

Learn how to remove veneer with this quick and easy side table makeover. Thrifted from a flea market, the nightstand was in terrible shape, but a little work goes a long way! #thrifted #furnitureflip

Since the wood under the veneer was damaged in some places, I planned to paint the piece. This meant I only needed to remove areas with loose veneer, which saved me a bunch of time!

Step 3: Sand

While the veneer on the side of the table came off smoothly, the top was a little more difficult.

Learn how to remove veneer with this quick and easy side table makeover. Thrifted from a flea market, the nightstand was in terrible shape, but a little work goes a long way! #thrifted #furnitureflip

There were a number of small chips that remained, but a quick sanding with medium grit sandpaper on my orbital sander cleared that right up! I also gave the sides a thorough sanding as well, just to smooth everything else.

Step 4: Finish

I filled in some of the uneven parts of the table with wood filler, then painted all the previously veneered portions a dark grey. I absolutely love how it turned out!

Learn how to remove veneer with this quick and easy side table makeover. Thrifted from a flea market, the nightstand was in terrible shape, but a little work goes a long way! #thrifted #furnitureflip

I love the contrast between the wood and the grey paint. I'm such a sucker for two-toned pieces! My TV Lift Cabinet is painted similarly, so clearly it's something I'm into.

Learn how to remove veneer with this quick and easy side table makeover. Thrifted from a flea market, the nightstand was in terrible shape, but a little work goes a long way! #thrifted #furnitureflip

I think it's so much better than the damaged veneer that covered it before. Plus, it was an easy project, which is always a bonus!

Learn how to remove veneer with this quick and easy side table makeover. Thrifted from a flea market, the nightstand was in terrible shape, but a little work goes a long way! #thrifted #furnitureflip

The final product will go next to my mom's chair up at the cabin. It's going to look great, and I'm so excited for my mom to see it next time she's up there for a visit. If you think it's a great project too, go ahead and save this post to Pinterest so you can find it again later!

Learn how to remove veneer with this quick and easy side table makeover. Thrifted from a flea market, the nightstand was in terrible shape, but a little work goes a long way! #thrifted #furnitureflip

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