Restoring, finishing & waterproofing a recycled timber veneer vanity cabinet

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Restoring, finishing & waterproofing a recycled timber veneer vanity cabinet

Postby Newlywed1311 » Mon May 11, 2020 11:34 pm

I am in the process of restoring and re-finishing an old Art Deco veneer cabinet.
My goal is to use it in our new ensuite, which is yet to be built.
I have been doing lots of reading, watching Youtube video's, sending off emails with questions, etc, so I can learn as I go. I still have lots of unanswered questions though.
The first part of my project is to strip back the cabinet, fix the small pieces of damage to the veneer, then finish it off.
I'd like to oil it, because a key feature of the cabinet is the grain in the veneer on the front doors.
Given it will be used in a bathroom, I know I will need to seal it very thoroughly, to prevent it from getting damaged and prevent from the veneer from bubbling/warping/coming unstuck. I've found a couple of products used on boats, both epoxy's. One is solvent based and one isn't. From some research I've seen, the non-solvent based one appears to be more water proof - so it is the one I'll likely use. It's called Bote Cote and is sold here in Australia.
I have a number of questions that you may be able to help me with.
1. How do I repair small chips and cracks in the veneer? There is no major damage, just small chips around the edges, a couple of deeper dings, and some spots where the veneer is lifting (which I intend on gluing back down with wood glue and clamping)?
2. Can/should I use the epoxy mix to fill small chips? I've heard about tinting expoxy, is this the best way forward? Or should I use a wood putty?
3. If I stain the timber, can I oil it and then put its epoxy coats on? I'm unsure if I can put epoxy waterproofing over an oil.

Thank you for your advice.
Bathroom vanity.jpg
Bathroom vanity.jpg (31.91 KiB) Viewed 63 times
Last edited by Newlywed1311 on Tue May 12, 2020 7:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Bob Boardman
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Re: Resotring, finishing & waterproofing a recycled timber veneer vanity cabinet

Postby Bob Boardman » Tue May 12, 2020 8:32 am

Usually the work you're discussing is left to a pro who has the skill and experience. That being said here are some answers:

1) For loose veneer. Veneer is usually affixed by using hide glue. The beauty of this from your perspective is that hide glue is repairable. To reattach veneer you first need to clean any debris that might be under the veneer. Sliding a very fine sand paper (400 or 600 grit) between bottom of veneer and the wood can sometimes help with this. Using a vacuum helps with this. To reattach the veneer you need to wet the glue under the veneer - an eye dropper or syringe work great, but depending on size of spot to be repaired you can wet a toothpick and make a number of passes under the veneer. Try not to get the top of the veneer wet. Once the veneer has moisture under it place a dry towel or piece of flannel over the area to be repaired. Turn on a clothes iron to a setting that's just below the hottest setting (do not use a steam setting). Run the iron over the towel a number of times, moving in a directoin from where the veneer is well attached to the area where it's loose. Do this for about a minute, applying a fair amount of pressure. Remove iron and use hand pressure or a heavy object over the repaired area. Hide glue melts from water and heat, so what youre doing is re-constituting the hide glue and pushing down on it so that when it cools it will be re-attached.

2) For cracks: If its a thin crack and the veneer is well attached to the underside there are 3 types of repair. The easiest is to go to an art supply store and buy crayons that are similar to the colors you're trying to match. Rub the crayon back and forth over the crack until the wax fills the crack. Crayons are made of wax which is made from a petroleum distillate so oil based finishes adhere to it. If using water base products, use and artists brush to place some Sealcoat or clear shellac over the wax. Shellac sticks to everything and everything sticks to shellac. The second technique is to use wood filler in the crack, let it dry, sand level and use stains or paint to match the color. This takes skill and practice. The last technique and the one that a pro would use would be to use a shellac or epoxy stick. These sticks come in a variety of colors. You use these by heating soldering iron to melt the shellac or epoxy into the crack. push out any air, let cool, and then rub, sand or scrape level.
- If you use plain or tinted epoxy and make a mistake or a mess, it's virtually impossible to repair/do over. If you use wood filler (btw - you say wood putty - there's a difference between wood putty abd wood filler. Putty is for small areas like nail or screw holes. Wood filler is for larger areas.) with wood filler it can often, but not always be repaired.

3) Oil and epoxy. Would like to know more about what you mean by 'oil'. Do you mean boiled linseed oil (if so at what mix ratio), Danish oil, oil stain, etc.
Bob "Boardman" Borders

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