A scenario that often replayed itself in our home was as follows: Stuart backed his truck up the driveway, jumped out excitedly and said “look what I picked up”. He opened the truck cover and revealed a (insert furniture of choice) that had damaged wood veneer. I mustered a pretty unenthusiastic smile. I can admit it – damaged wood veneer scared me!
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Using Bondo to fill damaged wood veneer
Veneer damage is one of the most common types of damage we come across. It also seems to be enough for most people to want to throw away the damaged furniture piece. So, through some trial and error, we figured out the best way to repair damaged veneer.
Below we share with you the technique we use to repair damaged wood veneer and save these pieces from the landfill.
Step 1 – Prep the piece
First you’ll need to remove any veneer that is loose or looks bubbly. Make sure you check out the bottom of the piece where there can be bubbling edges from water damage. Using a putty knife you can just pry away the loose bits. You can also use a knife if they need to be cut away.
Step 2 – Mix filler
The first time we tried to repair missing veneer we used wood putty. We were pretty pleased with ourselves, and the result, until the piece popped right out. So frustrating! After some research we discovered automotive body filler (more commonly referred to as Bondo, though this is technically a brand name of 3M). You can grab this kit here on Amazon.
Bondo is a thick, two-part polyester resin. The first part is the filler, which is in a can. The second part is the hardener, which is in a tube. You can buy them together in a kit with a spreader. It is smelly stuff so make sure you are working in well ventilated area!
Take a golf ball sized amount of the filler and put it on a paper plate. Squirt about an inch of the red colored harderener onto the filler. Mix the filler and the hardener together on using a putty knife. The more hardener you use, the quicker the Bondo will set so don’t use too much until you get a feel for how the product works.
Step 3 – Apply filler
Once you’ve mixed the hardener and filler into a homogeneous putty like consistency, you’re ready to spread it onto the missing veneer spots. Using the putty knife, drag the putty along the space you need filled. You want to overfill a bit but at the same time taper off just past where the void . This will help reduce the sanding later.
Step 4 – Sand bondo
Let your Bondo dry for about an hour. Once it’s dry, you can sand down the filled areas using a simple palm sander. Don’t go crazy sanding – the goal is to sand the filler down to be flush with the veneer but you don’t want to sand down the veneer in the process. We recommend you wear a mask for this step since you don’t want to be breathing this stuff in!
Step 5 – Paint
Once your Bondo is sanded smooth with the existing veneer you’re ready to paint! You cannot stain Bondo so painting is your only choice. If you plan on distressing the piece, a great tip from Angela Davidson at A to Z Custom Creations is to spray paint the filled areas so the distressing process doesn’t expose the Bondo color under the paint but rather the spray painted color. You can also read our guide on how to achieve the near perfect paint finish here.
We are happy we’ve found a reliable way to fill in those damaged and missing veneers and bring these pieces back from the edge of disposal! Do you have a go to method to repair damaged wood veneer? We’d love to hear from you if you have a moment to add a comment below!