Replacing / Removing Wood Veneer
It’s not always necessary to remove the old wood veneer but it should be intact, not bubbled or cracked, and firmly attached, if you are even considering veneering over it.
Removing or replacing old veneer can be a relatively easy process or not at all. The difficulty of the project all depends on what type of glue was used to bond the veneer. If the item was built in the past fifty years, the glue that was likely used was a yellow, white or some other type of synthetic resin glue. Many of these glues are extremely resistant to heat and moisture. However, veneer on most antique items were most likely bonded with hide glue. hide glue is very strong but with only having little resistance to heat and water.
If you are forced to remove old wood veneer, a heat gun and a putty knife are essential tools. You must first apply heat to the edge of the veneer to loosen the glue. Then start with the putty knife under the edge and lift as you go. This process can be slow and the veneer will likely come off in small chunks. There are no shortcuts to removing the old veneer.
Once the veneer is removed, you must clean the entire surface of any glue residue and repair any deep scratches and gouges prior to re-veneering. Remember, any flaws in the surface can telegraph through the veneer and show up in your finished product.