Emile Sewing Table and Tutorial on Veneer Removal

Well I decided to go for it. A family member said that the biggest reason I can do what I do is that I’m not afraid to take a risk.

My client brought me this sewing table which she wanted redone so her daughter could use it as a desk. Cool idea, right?

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Well check out the top. It needed some major work. It was not just like I could glue and clamp it or use some wood filler. Then veneer was bubbled, chipped, and missing pieces. Basically, it would have to go.
I thought about this for a while and actually told my client I wouldn’t be able to do it, I didn’t have time to learn. But it sat in my garage. I don’t like thinking I can’t do something. And then I came across a great tutorial that showed how to remove veneer. I was in.

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You might be able to peel some off with a putty knife, but that wasn’t working so well for me. So here’s what you can do to get it all off. First, get the whole top wet. Like pour water on and spread it around. This will start to loosen up the glue. Next, heat up your iron on the moist heat setting. Yup, you read that right. Get an old rag moist and place it over the veneer, and put the iron on top. The goal here is to melt the glue so you can then scrape it off. The tutorial I read said to keep it on for about 30 seconds, but this did virtually nothing for my piece. To be honest, I left it on for 1-2 minutes. It was stubborn.

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Have your putty knife ready! When you remove the iron, start scraping!! Wedge the putty knife under the veneer and push it along, the veneer should peel up. Sometimes a strip would peel off, but often I could only do small portions at a time, the size of the iron. So this was a tedious process.

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But once it was done, I felt so accomplished! It took me about two hours to remove the entire top. A few tips: make sure the towel is always moist, and wear gloves. Thick ones. Maybe you are not as accident-prone as I am, but the putty knife slipped from under the veneer a few times and I cut myself while wearing thick nitrile gloves.

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With the veneer off, I put the legs on the table and went to work! I was so excited I covered her in ASCP Emile right away. The top was uneven from the veneer and water damage, but I thought maybe another magical thing about chalk paint is that it can fix that. Nope. So I busted out the orbital sander and smoothed it out then painted her again. Ah. Much better.

I follow this with the usual wax, distress, and dark glaze. I focused the distressing on the faux drawers in the front and the pretty knobby legs. This took the piece from Easter-egg-pastel to girly-chic. Bam.

I waxed all over (with two coats on top to make it more kiddo-friendly) and used ORB on the hardware. She was done and looked fab.

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What a great desk!

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Look at my cute puppy checking out the desk. :) On the top you can see where there is cool “hidden” storage where the sewing machine typically would be.

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What do you think? Would you have attempted this project? It took a while, but I am proud of myself for tackling it and making it look awesome (I’m so humble). You just have to go for it sometimes and see what happens! Have confidence that you can do it! (And do your research!) Do you have any projects you just need to go for? I would love to hear about it!

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