Touch-Up Repair for Cherry Veneer

When a sanding mistake burns right through a cherry veneer, quick or easy fixes are scarce. Here are a handful of suggestions for making the best of a bad situation. December 15, 2005

Some cherry veneer got sanded through while someone was attempting to make it level with the flush trim. This is in the cabin on a yacht and on a curve, so re-veneering isn't on. The finishers were told to go ahead and finish it, so now it has 3 coats of Reliant on it, making the sand-throughs really stand out. I'm going to touch it up. How can I age the lacquered cherry veneer in two weeks so my touch ups won't stand out next year when the cherry ages? The yacht has only 12 V pot lights and there's no way to expose it to the sun.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor D:
Plan A - you better just fix it right the first time. Either remove and replace the damaged piece completely or, if you can swing a patch that won't stick out, you really need to have some wood under the finish, because like you said, in a year things won't look the same. Plan B - drill a hole in the boat.

From Paul Snyder, forum technical advisor:
Doing touch-ups on top of the finish will stand out as much as the sand throughs at the right angle. Much better to do these graining repairs before topcoating. Instead of trying to age the cherry without UV, make your repair slightly lighter than the aged color of cherry. It will be a little dark now and a little light later, but not too drastic.

From contributor C:
You've got quite a problem on your hands. Who told the finishers to finish it as is? Where do you figure into this mix? Are you the owner of the boat, cabinet builder, finish company?

It's unfortunate that the problem wasn't corrected prior to the finishing process. I would not try to touch up the finish to match a color that does not exist yet and may never occur. I would match the repair to the color you are presented with at the time of repair. If the client isn't happy with the sand through, what makes anyone think they will approve anything other than a perfect match?

I would, however, make the owner aware of the probability of the wood oxidizing and changing color and that you may have to make additional color adjustments to the repaired areas. I would also try to come up with a timeline. Going back too early may raise the possibility of more than one return call for color adjustments.

The possibility also exists, that with so little light in the area, that the original correction may be all that is needed.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for the ideas. Has anyone tried a UV light as an aging aid? I guess my options are to match it midway (fortunately there is some old cherry aboard, so I won't be shooting totally in the dark) or to go with the dark look now and wait for the cherry to catch up. Yes, I'll have to take off some of the topcoat before doing the touchup - perhaps all of it. I figure in as the problem solver - the boat owner, the carpenters and the finishers all had at it before me. I still have a week and a half before the job and I'll listen to any ideas.

From contributor E:
I don't know if it was my upbringing or what, but it seems to me that if someone sanded too far and went through the veneer, the only right thing to do is replace the defected piece with one that is correct. No matter how good of a repair person you are, you are working on what I suspect is a pretty high dollar boat and for someone to care so little about the worksmanship they do is just sad. I am not talking about you - I know you will do your best to make it look as good as possible, but when they made a mistake, as all of us do, why should we let them off the hook by tolerating substandard crafstmanship?

From contributor S:
Coloring touchups can be done with PrismaColor artists pencils. Then you spot spray to seal in the coloring if you are happy with it. Spray No Blush around your spot finishing so that it feathers itself in and leaves you with as little overspray mark as possible. You can also paint the area using Mohawk's Blendal powders for color and Mohawk's Locover 30 (lower in solids than the Lacover 50). Finger padding in the colors is another method to explore. Each of these work, depending on the operator. There's a lot of technique involved. PrismaColor pencils involves the lowest level of skill. Smear the colors on and if you like them, seal them in, wait for your seal coat to dry and color some more until you are happy. I use Konig Special Repair lacquers for sealing in because they have an extremely low solids count. I need sealing, not film building.

From the original questioner:
It seems that the owner of the yacht has already sold it and just wanted the sand throughs to not be conspicuous. There was just no way to put a veneer patch in. I used a combo of thinned Lacover, Mohawk powders, thinned stain, graining brushes and colored pencils and got it to look halfway decent. Not perfect, but acceptable. Thanks to all who gave advice.