I just installed a maple veneered unit that I stained and lacquered. For the first time ever, the veneer bubbled and the customer is complaining. How can I fix this problem? I used phenolic back veneer and applied it with contact cement. Any way to fix it without re-veneering?
From contributor B:
If you use an iron you should be able to reactivate the contact adhesive. Make sure you put a cloth in between the iron and cabinetry. You will need some way to put pressure on the bubbles to flatten them until the adhesive sets.
In the future, use a 2-ply veneer. The thicker your veneer, the less likely you'll get bubbles. Also, if you spray a lacquer finish, make sure you use a water based contact cement. What might have happened in your case is that the thinner in your finish coat loosened up your contact cement.
If the iron won't set the glue or after the glue cools, it releases again, you might have to inject a little more adhesive into the bubble and then use the iron again.
All this advice is assuming the failure is in the glue line that you applied and not in the manufactured product, i.e. in the glue line between the phenolic and the veneer face. If this proves to be the case you might have to re-veneer. Nine times out of 10, though, it is the contact cement. Sometimes the contact cement hasn't flashed off completely and as it gasses off after the veneer has been applied, it creates a bubble.
Try the incision and iron method first. Also, FYI when applying the veneer with this method - you should stay away from using a J roller to apply the pressure. Wood veneer and especially maple veneer moves a lot and the J roller does not give you enough PSI on that type of glue line. A veneer hammer or scraper is much better. A veneer that moves a lot will bubble if there is a weak spot in the glue line.
Out of curiosity, is the veneer backed with an actual phenolic regrind or a polyback backer? There is a difference, but some suppliers use the terms interchangeably. This might slightly alter your approach to your fix.