Repairing Oak Veneer

Updated February 21, 2017

Applying oak veneer to furniture allows manufacturers to cover less desirable wood substrates. Cutting oak into paper-thin slices and adhering it to a surface creates a facade that looks more expensive than it is. Glue under the oak veneer can dry out due to age, which causes the veneer to lift and crack. Excess humidity can cause the veneer to bubble. Accidental impacts can also cause the veneer to chip and break. Repairing oak veneer as soon as damage occurs or is visible will prevent the damage from worsening.

Lay a thin, slightly damp cloth over the bubble. Set a household iron on a low temperature setting, and glide the iron over the bubble. On old pieces of furniture, craftsmen used hide glue, which heat and moisture will reactivate and stick back onto the substrate. If the glue becomes sticky and the bubble sticks to the substrate, place a heavy book over it for four to six hours to ensure good adhesion.

Cut the blister along the oak wood grain, using a utility knife.

Load a glue syringe with hide glue. Insert the tip of the glue syringe into the slit, and inject glue on both sides of the bubble.

Press the bubble in place and smooth it back and forth with your hand. Wipe up any excess wood glue with a damp rag.

Position a sheet of waxed paper on top of the repair, and place a heavy book on top. Allow the hide glue to set for four to six hours before you remove the book.

Spread a thin, damp cloth over the lifting section of oak veneer. Apply low heat from a household iron to determine if the glue will reactivate. If the glue reactivates, place a dry rag over the area and a scrap piece of wood over it. Secure the scrap wood over the repair with C-clamps.

Raise the lifted oak veneer, and scrape away old glue from the substrate with a razor blade. Hold the razor blade a 45-degree angle or greater to avoid gouging the substrate.

Apply a coat of hide glue to the underside and the substrate of the oak veneer, using a small paintbrush.

Press the oak veneer in place, and wipe up any excess glue with a damp rag.

Place a sheet of waxed paper over the repair and extending 2 to 3 inches past it. Place a piece of scrap wood over the waxed paper, and secure the wood to the table with C-clamps. Allow the hide glue to set for four to six hours before you remove the clamps.

Remove all broken, splintered edges by hand. If the broken piece has a highly irregular border, trim with a utility knife along the wood grain to create a less jagged edge.

Place a sheet of white paper over the broken area. Hold a sharp pencil at a 90-degree angle and rub the pencil back and forth to create a pattern of the damaged section on the paper. Cut the pattern out with scissors.

Place the pattern over a new piece of oak veneer. Cut along the edges of the pattern to create a patch. Test the patch to make sure it fits properly into the damaged section. Trim as necessary to make it fit tightly.

Apply contact cement to the substrate and the back of the oak veneer, using a small paintbrush. Allow the adhesive to dry until it feels tacky to the touch. Fit the patch in place and press down. Allow the contact cement to dry for two to three hours.

Apply scratch cover to the edges and seams of the repair to conceal it further.


Use coasters to protect the surface of oak veneer furniture from damage.


Avoid storing or displaying oak veneer furniture in areas with excess heat and humidity.

Things You'll Need

  • Rag
  • Household iron
  • Utility knife
  • Glue syringe
  • Hide glue
  • Waxed paper
  • Book
  • C-clamps
  • Scrap wood
  • Razor blade
  • Small paintbrush
  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Contact cement
  • Scratch cover
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About the Author

Sal Marco began writing professionally in 2009. He has written many online home improvement articles based on his more than 20 years of experience in the home improvement and building industries. He has worked as both part of a team and as a site supervisor. Marco has a Bachelor of Science in management science from Kean University.