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Old 2nd Jun 2015, 12:58 pm   #1
stevehertz
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Default Veneer chipped at corner of cabinet

I have experience of lots of restoration techniques but I'd like a 'veneer expert' to help/reassure me here please. The lower rear corner of my Pye Fenman 2 has a shard of veneer missing, it's just one layer of the plywood actually. My thoughts are to make a straight, diagonal cut - 60 degrees at bottom, 30 degrees at top to remove the surrounding damaged edges of the chip and then fill it in with a slice of suitable veneer, grain matched, and then match up using wood dye and/or coloured lacquer with lacquer to finish obviously. Then flatten, cut back and buff.
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Old 2nd Jun 2015, 3:25 pm   #2
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Default Re: Veneer chipped at corner of cabinet

Stage two completed. Damaged veneer section cut out and area tidied up.
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Old 2nd Jun 2015, 4:26 pm   #3
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Default Re: Veneer chipped at corner of cabinet

When I was a cabinet maker we used to lay the replacement piece of veneer over the damaged veneer below, line it up so as good a grain match could be obtained, and only then cut through both pieces on the diagonal. This would ensure a perfect matching cut line. The bottom layer of excess veneer was then very gently chiseled away or lifted with heat and the replacement piece affixed. Once glue dried the excess from the edge of the replacement piece could be very carefully cut/sanded away. Have I explained this clearly?

The way you have done it may make it more difficult to get an exact match as you have to cut the diagonal of the replacement piece alone. Your exact angle measurements will hopefully overcome this however.

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Old 2nd Jun 2015, 5:38 pm   #4
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Default Re: Veneer chipped at corner of cabinet

Thanks Nick. Actually the piece of veneer of the 'correct' colour, grain and size that I had at hand was only a small sample piece, so 'perfect' grain alignment using the method you explain was not an option in this instance. However, where it is, at the lower back corner of the set, I'm not going to worry too much about that. At the moment the new veneer - two layers needed actually - is in place and the glue is drying. I'll add new photos as each stage is completed.
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Old 3rd Jun 2015, 9:00 am   #5
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Default Re: Veneer chipped at corner of cabinet

The veneer patch is in place having been held down under a steel rule and a brick overnight. White glue used. The dark marks on the veneer are 'rust dirt' from the ruler as I moved it around during positioning. See photo.

Next steps, to trim and sand the patch flush - having to use two pieces (thicknesses) it's a tad higher than original, then stain. That's stain with wood dye, not coloured lacquer. Reason, these sets were sprayed with cellulose lacquer, whereas all the modern, coloured lacquers (that I'm aware of such as Ronseal etc) are polyurethane and it's not good to mix lacquer types as reaction can take place sooner or later. Photo soon.
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Old 3rd Jun 2015, 9:19 am   #6
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Default Re: Veneer chipped at corner of cabinet

I agree with Nick, but it can be extremely difficult finding a matching piece of veneer as no two trees of the same specie grow exactly the same! A straight cut nearly always draws the eye to any imperfections, whereas the random shaped veneer punch cuts both old and new, (or hand-cut as Nick describes) and tends to better blend imperfect matches. The human eye is very critical and unforgiving!
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Old 3rd Jun 2015, 10:33 am   #7
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Default Re: Veneer chipped at corner of cabinet

Let's keep this in perspective, this is the rear lower corner of a vintage radio, not the front of a valuable antique cabinet. When done, it will hardly be noticeable. Also, being as the cut was dead straight and against an edge/corner, there was no real need to employ the 'cut through both veneers' method as you would with an odd shaped piece of veneer to repair say a middle section or a complex grain pattern. I totally see and appreciate the reason to use that method where applicable. My small piece of veneer sample when cut diagonally was just right to fill the gap, and the grain and colour is similar to the wood underneath.

Out of interest, years ago I had a Pye set from the 30s that had a separate piece of veneer that was lifting on a section of the front of the set. Difficult to describe, but it was expertly done and clearly original. However, the set had been stored in poor conditions when I got it and needed re-lacquering. On inspection, underneath that section of veneer was burnt wood - fire damage! Yes, Pye had repaired the cabinet of a set(s) damaged in a factory fire. This was born out many years later when I read somewhere about the fire in the Pye factory in the thirties.
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Old 3rd Jun 2015, 1:31 pm   #8
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Default Re: Veneer chipped at corner of cabinet

The veneer patch has now been sanded down and dye/stain applied. In real life the dye is quite a good match, but due to light reflections the photo paints a different picture. Tomorrow I'll apply a coat of clear cellulose or two to check the colour match avec lacquer, then on subsequent days, further coats with added drops of dye mixed in to obtain the final colour match.
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Old 3rd Jun 2015, 2:30 pm   #9
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Default Re: Veneer chipped at corner of cabinet

Quote:
Originally Posted by stevehertz View Post
Let's keep this in perspective, this is the rear lower corner of a vintage radio, not the front of a valuable antique cabinet. When done, it will hardly be noticeable. Also, being as the cut was dead straight and against an edge/corner, there was no real need to employ the 'cut through both veneers' method as you would with an odd shaped piece of veneer to repair say a middle section or a complex grain pattern. I totally see and appreciate the reason to use that method where applicable. My small piece of veneer sample when cut diagonally was just right to fill the gap, and the grain and colour is similar to the wood
Yes, I agree. I have seen at least a couple of sets repaired like this, and in an inconspicuous place, the repair is essentially invisible.

Hands-up how many of us might have just reached for the brown paint

Nick.
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Old 3rd Jun 2015, 4:44 pm   #10
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Default Re: Veneer chipped at corner of cabinet

In the past Nick I'd have just filled it in with some plastic wood, but having done that lots of times, the notion that I could subsequently sand and stain it to look good are a thing of the past; it's an 'ok' fix, but far from brilliant or even good. Saying that, small chips can be dealt with using a slither of plastic wood and disguised later, but not a whole 'area'.
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Old 4th Jun 2015, 7:24 am   #11
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Default Re: Veneer chipped at corner of cabinet

First coat of (clear) cellulose lacquer applied, still wet actually. The colour match is not perfect and there's a small area at the top where whilst sanding down the veneer patch (that was too high) I went through the original finish in the adjoining area. I can darken (brown) that up a tad using dye in the next coat of lacquer.

Out of interest, those scratches on the side of the cabinet hardly show up when viewed normally, camera flash is very unforgiving especially when close up. Anyway, a long way to go yet, more coats of lacquer to be applied, then flatting, cutting back and polishing.
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Old 4th Jun 2015, 9:47 am   #12
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Default Re: Veneer chipped at corner of cabinet

Looking promising. To get a good effect, it might have been easier to use cellulose toner on a fine paint brush - to mask the insert by adding to the grain pattern, then smudging it slightly with your finger. But if you haven't got toner or you've already put on acrylic, this isn't possible.

In which case, an old trick I've been known to use is to 'blur' mask the area around the join by using two pieces of loosely applied kitchen roll paper and then run a very quick, gentle, light puff of Rover Maple (brown) paint across from a car aerosol. Once you've done this you can merge it (and remove paint if necessary) using 0000 wirewool and water (not spirit). Finally seal with a spray coat of clear acrylic.

The whole area of radio cabinet restoration is something of a black art. with different practitioners developing their own techniques. Full marks for doing yours in the full blaze of publicity.

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Old 9th Jun 2015, 9:36 am   #13
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Default Re: Veneer chipped at corner of cabinet

Today's photo. About 7 coats applied now. First one was with stain/dye, second one was 'half and half' to blend/colour an area still too light, subsequent ones, clear. Still insufficient though, clear signs of grain sinkage still. As I said previously, it's far from a perfect colour match, but when flatted and polished it'll be fine - much better than that white, 'busted corner' that is was before. Hopefully another couple of coats, then I'll be in a position to flat off and polish.
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Old 10th Jun 2015, 4:57 pm   #14
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Default Re: Veneer chipped at corner of cabinet

Finished. After a couple more coats of clear lacquer including a 'selective' one to fill in some low areas I used various grades of Sylmasta micro-mesh abrasive pads to flat off, then a final polish. I'm happy with it.
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Old 10th Jun 2015, 5:09 pm   #15
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Default Re: Veneer chipped at corner of cabinet

I'm very impressed Steve!
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Old 10th Jun 2015, 5:17 pm   #16
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Default Re: Veneer chipped at corner of cabinet

Thanks Nick. Y'see, even I can do it. Joking apart, it wasn't hard, it just needs care when trying to brew up the best match of stain/dye, then patience when applying daily coats of lacquer, then some more care when flatting off so as to not go through to bare wood again. That's why the very fine Sylmasta pads are great for this kind of work, I wouldn't be without them now for my VW and my guitar repair work.
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Old 11th Jun 2015, 4:03 pm   #17
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Default Re: Veneer chipped at corner of cabinet

For a 'non-expert' Steve this is a fairly expert job!
Any apprentice cabinet maker would be happy to present this result to his mentor
Good for you.
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Old 12th Jun 2015, 5:34 am   #18
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Default Re: Veneer chipped at corner of cabinet

In fairness Nick I'm not new to woodwork and repairs of 'this nature' working on guitars as I do (and dozens of VW sets too over 40 years), however - and hence my request for advice at the beginning - I don't recall ever having let in a section of veneer before (?!). I've veneered speakers, so I know how to be careful around edges and stuff, and lots of finish/lacquer repair work, but not this actual type of veneer repair. But anyway, thanks for the kind words of encouragement and to anyone considering repairing a veneer chip, give it a go, there's a good chance you'll make it look a whole lot better!
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Old 16th Jun 2015, 9:04 am   #19
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Default Re: Veneer chipped at corner of cabinet

I have now finished the cabinet restoration. In fairness, apart from the veneer chip, the cabinet was in good condition. That is, apart from years of old wax polish (wrong..) that ruined the lustre. There was a loose strip of wood along the lower edge of the control panel, I glued that down. Then I applied Topps scratch cover polish all over and rubbed off after a few hours. Then, masking the dial and speaker fret with paper, I used silicon based furniture polish to remove the grime and wax build up and eventually to create a polished finish.

On the subject of polishes, it's been a marketing ploy for years for manufacturers to talk about oils and waxes in their products. The truth is, most of such polishes never 'see' any bare wood as they are applied on to various nitrocellulose and poly finishes - plastics basically. But your average 'houseperson' likes the sound of waxes in polish, it appeals to them in an old fashioned kind of way. So that's why I use Mr Sheen and that kind of furniture spray; it's actually correct for the job.

Anyway, here's the finished job, cabinet repaired and cleaned and knobs repaired (one) and cleaned. Just gotta restore the workings now. It does emit stations weakly, so at least it's not a dead set.
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