Re-Veneering an Antique Table

New hide glue will probably stick best to existing old hide glue. April 21, 2011

I have a job that is for a very good customer andt I'm not real sure which direction to go. The tabletop is one from 20ís-30ís, probably a game table. It has solid mahogany surrounding two ribbon-striped panels. The veneer was pretty damaged (long story) and so I removed it by using an iron and wet towel method.

Now, the veneer has been successfully removed and the cross-grain substrate exposed. I have not sanded the substrate, just scraped it some while the old glue was wet. Probably hide glue. The veneered portions are about 13"X30". Since I don't veneer very often, I don't have a vacuum system, just a veneer scraper. I will refinish with regular SW nitrocellulose lacquer.


1. What type of veneer (paper backed, PSA, raw, etc.) would give me the best long term results?

2. What kind of glue for the particular type of veneer suggested?

I'm not sure what thickness the old veneer was, but I don't want the new to set higher than the surrounding solid wood. I think that if the veneer set even or lower than the solid wood would be better.

Forum Responses
(Veneer Forum)
From contributor S:
The best would be to use raw veneer and hammer veneer it down with fresh hide glue (new hide glue will stick to old hide glue without any adhesion problems). The veneers available today are much thinner than in the 20's and 30's.

I would not use contact cement, bad idea all around. I think you would have problems with PSA due to repositioning problems, once itís down itís stuck so you have to line everything up perfectly first shot. If you could remove all the old hide glue you could try yellow glue with cauls and lots of clamps, but you really need to get all of the old glue off to bare wood. You can find all kinds of books on hammer veneering. Itís not that hard, you just need to do some sample panels for practice, plus you will have learned a new skill.

From the original questioner:
I thought about re-veneering the table just like you said. There are so many new products now that I was thinking there might be a better way. Honestly, I've never worked with hide glue, other than replace it on a repair with Tightbond.

From contributor S:
It occurred to me after posting my first response that if the glue on the substrate is smoothed (use a sharp cabinet scraper) you could use Titebond's Hide glue like you would yellow glue, lots of clamps and cauls. That way you donít have to heat up the hide glue or develop mad skills at hammer veneering. The Titebondwill will adhere to the old glue making a nice strong bond. Let it set overnight for best results. Not that learning a new skill would kill you but why make it harder than it has to be and you donít have to buy a bunch of new equipment you might not use again.

From the original questioner:
I was thinking about the old clamps and cauls method since time isn't really a concern here, but accuracy and long lasting is. I'm finding that the sheets of paper-backed are more plentiful on the net. Would the Titebond hide glue with clamps and cauls work with that? Or would regular yellow glue work as well, along with the clamps and cauls?

My veneering experience has been with veneer patches on furniture repair. Also, I've used spray contact cement on a large sheet of paper-backed successfully before, but not replacing a section of an antique table.

From contributor S:
Contact cement will work with paper backed veneer but it is more likely to bubble and lift since it is not a very rigid glue line. The lacquer can be problematic also due to reaction to the contact cement. Titebond hide glue and raw veneer and clap and cauls is the way to go.