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How To Fix Chipped Veneer
Sometimes I find pieces of furniture that are stunning but in terrible condition. This was the case with this vanity. It has a long history in my family, and I have actually had it since I was tiny. When I came across it in storage and saw what a mess it was, I knew that I could salvage it with paint and make it shine again. But in order to do that, I had to figure out how to fix chipped veneer!
I will be honest, I had no idea how to do this. After searching on Pinterest for a while, I thought that maybe I could remove the veneer. Several different bloggers had had great results by using a heat gun and peeling it off, so I decided to give it a shot. After about an hour, I ended up with this:
This whole removing the veneer concept was not going to cut it. Back to the drawing board!
Should I Fill the Veneer?
After a bit more research, I came across this post. The idea was a bit intimidating. I mean, using Bondo to refinish a piece of furniture?! Just the word Bondo made me nervous! But like everything else I have faced on this journey, I pushed my fear aside, hopped on Amazon and committed to this concept by buying my supplies.
You know what? I am so glad I did! The process was so simple. I will walk you through what I did differently than the tutorial I followed and what I learned about this process. Then you can reclaim a lost piece of furniture yourself!
First, you need to get your supplies! Here is what you will need:
Your piece of furniture 😉
Painter’s Tape (optional)
Sander(I tell you why I love mine in this post!)
Sandpaper, around 100 grit is fine
Fix The Chipped Veneer With Bondo!
Now, mix the Bondo according to the directions on the can. Mine said to use 1.25 inches of the red tube for a tablespoon of the jar substance.
Once your Bondo is mixed, you only have about three minutes to apply it and get everything shaped before it sets up.
1. Take a glob and slap it down. Spread the glob out onto your chipped section, trying to make it fill everything in. I would dare to say extra Bondo is better than too little in this step because we will be sanding any excess later.
2. Use your putty knife to smooth the Bondo by starting inside of the drawer and pulling towards the edges. Try to keep it from digging in and making divets, but remove as much excess as possible.
3. Drag the knife against the edges to get off excess, once again making sure not to remove too much.
Even though this process is actually quite simple, I went through a bit of trial and error. Mixing the Bondo is the hardest part. I mixed a bit too much of the hardener in on my first attempt. I thought that it would be better to have more hardener than not enough, afraid that if I didn’t have enough it would never harden completely.
After a conversation with my brother-in-law, I found out that really wasn’t the case(he uses Bondo to sculpt ears in taxidermy!). Knowing this would have made a big difference for my process because I wouldn’t have been rushing and could probably have gotten away with one coat. However, that is the good news! Even if you don’t get it mixed just right, you can try again.
I chose to do two coats because my Bondo was grainy from setting too quickly, and I couldn’t get the gaps filled well because I had such a large space to do. Honestly, I wanted to cry when I saw the drawer in that first picture. That was not going to look good painted! But after stepping back for a few days I realized I could just try again, and it worked, so don’t get discouraged!
Don’t Bother Taping
Something else that I did differently than the tutorial I followed was taping. The first coat that I applied I used tape and it was fine, but I really struggled to get the Bondo up against the tape to create a nice edge, which was the whole point! You can see where the pits and gaps are in the picture below(ignore my foot!). See how rounded the corner was? I couldn’t get the putty to smash in that corner for nothin’.
Make sure you remove your hardware! I forgot to, and it was hard to use the putty knife evenly.
The second coat that I applied, I just went for it without taping up. It was definitely messier, and I used more Bondo, but I had so much more dried Bondo to work with in order to create nice defined edges. Overall, I would skip taping and just sand more after drying. You can see the globs that dropped while I hurried to get everything in place.
Sand The Bondo To Shape
Once the Bondo is dry, you can clean it up! This step is mind-boggling. We are going to use our palm sander to make everything seamless, and it all comes together so quickly. There isn’t much of a technique to this. Try to keep your sander lined up so that you have an even surface, go over the entire drawer and use it against the edges as well. You will be amazed at how the Bondo melts away like butter, leaving a silky smooth surface.
You Fixed Chipped Veneer!
There you have it. How to fix chipped veneer the cheater way! My drawers are so smooth you would never guess that I had any kind of chipping in the first place. Everyone that has seen the vanity in person has been amazed. I am STILL amazed every time I look at it. See how nice the corners are, and how even the surface is?
Even though it is unfamiliar and a bit intimidating, this project is really simple and anyone can do it. Just imagine what you could do with all of the furniture that the world has deemed junk. I am excited to start keeping my eyes open for some trash-to-treasure pieces! You should too, now that you know how to fix chipped veneer!
To see the vanity all finished, visit my nursery reveal.
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