Patching damaged veneer

Repairing damaged veneer on the top of a chest of drawers. June 14, 2000

I have to repair a 3.5-inch diameter burn in the top of a cherry-veneered bureau. I've already determined that the burn is through the veneer and into the substrate (MDF). I plan on taking the following steps:

- Cut a diamond out of the damaged veneer with the longer axis along the grain of the veneer.
- Gouge out the damaged substrate and fill with Woodpoxy; level the Woodpoxy.
- Take a veneer that matches grain pattern, but is larger so that it extends over the edges of diamond.
- Put glue in void, making sure to completely cover.
- Cover with a piece of wax paper.
- Take a paper towel and fold it up so that it is about 3/4-inch thick. Place over the repair, clamp tight.
- Leave it sit for 8 hours. Remove clamp, towel, and wax paper. Sand off the excess veneer with a sanding block until it is flush with the original veneer.

Am I on the right track? Any better ideas?

Forum Responses
I would be more inclined to cut the patch so it fits exactly. This is not easy but will make for a more secure patch. As long as you cut the patch in an irregular shape the repair will be less noticeable.

I agree with John. Cutting the patch to fit the exact size will make a better-looking job. Everything else sounds OK.
Locke Wilde, forum moderator

I would make two router jigs, male and female, where the male jig easily fits the female jig.

Use the router with an inlay bit and the female jig, to take the existing veneer out. Then use the male jig for cutting the new veneer.

The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor A:
Here's the method I've used in my restoration business for 30 years. I haven't turned out a bad patch yet. The more irregular the shape of the patch, the less noticeable the repair, but these are difficult to do. For simplicity will do a diamond patch.

1. Cut a diamond shape around the damaged area with the long axis of the diamond in the same direction of the grain. Be sure to cut all the way through the face veneer. Carefully pry up the diamond without damaging the crossbanding or veneer core. If this happens they will have to be repaired or any irregularities will telegraph through the new patch.

2. Make a pattern of the diamond; You do this by making a rubbing of the area. Take a piece of paper 1 or 2 inches larger than the diamond recess and tape it down over the area. Shade over the area with a soft lead pencil. Remove rubbing and carefully cut out diamond.

3. Glue diamond to clear plexiglass with spray type adhisive. Carefully cut out the diamond with a jewelers or coping saw. (Note: do not use a scroll saw because it creates too much heat, which melts the plexiglass.) Cut the diamond template a little oversize and file the edges to a perfect tight fit, checking often to make sure you don't over-adjust the template fit. Remove the paper pattern from the plexi-glass template with paint thinner.

4. Place the template over the veneer. Move it around to locate the correct grain direction and pattern to match the piece being repaired. When satisfied with the match, carefully cut it out.

5. You can glue the patch using woodworkers glue or aliphatic resin. Apply wax paper between a flat hardwood caul and then clamp. The method I prefer is to apply the aliphatic resin to both surfaces and let the glue completey cure. Once cured, the diamond patch can be set into the recess and bonded using an iron on medium setting. (Note: mask around the recess prior to applying the glue to prevent glue stain on surrounding areas.)

6. Lightly hand sand patch using a block and finish.