Loosening and Re-Adhering Stainless Steel Veneer

Thoughts on how to separate a contact-cemented stainless steel band from a wood substrate, smooth it out, and glue it back down. February 25, 2009

We're having a little problem with the table seen in the link below. The top seems to have shrunk a little bit, maybe 1/16" over 10', or someone put something very hot on it, and part of it popped up (see photo). I need to fix this, and here's what I was thinking. The band was glued down with contact cement to the veneered and finished ebony panel. I'd like to release the glue bond between the bump and the center of the table, where there is a seam, and then flatten out the bump and re-glue it. This won't be too hard, as we can remove the outer panel to access the strip and easily get clamps onto the stainless steel.

So here are my questions:
1. What is the best way to release a solvent based contact cement? I will be working on site, so I can't be slopping solvents around, but a small amount would be acceptable. I've heard that an iron will loosen the glue. Any other ideas?

2. Should I plan on removing the old contact cement, or can it be reactivated or left in place?

3. What is the best way to glue it back down? I'm a little leery of brushing contact cement on site, spraying is out of the question. Perhaps a tape, polyurethane or other? Epoxy? Super glue? I'd like to add minimal thickness to the glue joint, as otherwise it will show up as a ripple in the stainless steel.

Forum Responses
(Adhesive Forum)
From contributor C:
Can't help you in getting it off, but when you reapply, get some 3M vhb tape. Incredibly powerful stuff - it comes in a bunch of widths and thicknesses, so check the full product guide on the 3M website.

From contributor J:
If you release the SS to the middle joint you are going to end up with a bump in the middle unless you can trim the end. It would be better to work to the corner if there is a joint there. You can use a small amount of lacquer thinner behind the SS to release the contact. It doesn't take much and once you can get behind the SS you can use a paper towel wet with LT to finish releasing the SS. You will need to clean up the old contact. You might try one of the water borne contacts for replacement. Good luck.

From the original questioner:
It's no problem to trim the end - I can just file off any excess steel. Has anyone used an iron to soften contact cement?

From contributor J:
Applying heat to remove this metal look-alike laminate band is a no-no. The heat will cause discoloration rendering a complete re-do anyhow! Starting at the bulging area inject lacquer thinner in both directions ending at the table top ends, thus completely removing the problematic band. Re-do the band application to the professional standard the customer expects of you.

From the original questioner:
If it was laminate metal lookalike I probably wouldn't be having this problem. It's real stainless steel. Does that change your advice?

From contributor H:
I have use an iron to release contact on many occasions. But that will not be the problem. I did a similar thing using real aluminum and it released fine but in the process of pulling it up, no matter how careful I was, the piece got small bends in it during removal. It did not look good when I tried to reinstall the same piece. I ended up replacing the entire strip. I do not care for water borne contact but in this case it would be a good option so as to not affect the surrounding finish.

From the original questioner:
I was planning on applying a new inlay over the old one once I got the bump smoothed down. I am thinking that the 3M tape will be the easiest way to attach both layers.

From contributor R:
Metal can be a tough go in woodworking glue-ups. Stainless will expand .001" per 1 degree of temperature change. 30 degree swing on the 10 foot piece and the metal will change 1/32". Just an idea about the contributor in the buckle. I hate using contact cement on any glue-up. Polyurethane is the best for gluing metal.