If you refinish vintage or antique furniture, then you know removing veneer can be a real chore. Using a heat gun makes the process a lot easier as you’ll see in this vintage card catalog makeover.
When I’m out yard sale shopping, I get a heady rush when I spy an item like this old card catalog.
As soon as I saw it, I knew I wanted it. I didn’t even inspect the condition before handing over my cash. It wasn’t until I got the piece back home to my garage that I realized how much work it would need. The veneer was chipped and peeling, and some of the drawers were missing hardware.
This piece was definitely going to test my DIY skills. This wouldn’t be a quick paint job makeover. I’d need to bring in the big guns.
My Wagner FURNO 500 heat gun, to be exact.
I’ve struggled with removing veneer from old furniture before. I used my iron and a wet cloth, and called in my husband for an assist, when I was making over the antique secretary I nicknamed Mildred. (That’s quite the story.)
That experience with removing veneer had pretty much soured me on the whole process. I ruined my iron, and it took more time and muscle than I’m willing to devote to most furniture flips. So, I’d mostly been avoiding furniture with chipped and peeling veneer.
But the card catalog was too good to pass up.
And using the FURNO heat gun really does make the process of removing veneer much easier. It’s still takes some time to heat up the adhesive and pry up the veneer. But if you let the heat gun do the work for you, you should be able to remove large sections of veneer with a metal putty knife.
The Wagner FURNO 500 heat gun has 12 temperature settings, ranging from 150°F to 1,200°F, and there are two fan settings for optimum heat control.
That makes it useful for all sorts of household projects, including removing paint, creating unique finishes on wood, making candles, restoring faded plastic, thawing pipes, removing crayon from walls, shrink wrapping and more. Wagner has a fun list of 101 uses for a heat gun, and I’m pretty sure my blogger friends and I came up with a few more.
Heat Gun Projects
- Hunt & Host bent plexiglass with her heat gun for cool 3D wall art.
- See how Seeking Lavender Lane weathered wood with her heat gun for a gorgeous furniture finish.
- Robb Restyle made her heat gun the boss of a retro vinyl makeover.
Don’t forget to click over to the other blogs for more easy DIY projects using a Wagner heat gun.
Now back to the card catalog…
Be sure to wear work gloves when using a heat gun. While working on the card catalog, I found it most effective to slide my metal putty knife under the peeling veneer. Working in sections, I used the heat gun to loosen the adhesive and inched the putty knife along, easily peeling up strips.
It helped to use the flare nozzle to direct the heat. If you find the veneer is not budging, apply more heat until the adhesive becomes pliable.
Just be patient and take it slowly.
Depending on how badly a piece of furniture is damaged, you may be able to use wood glue and wood filler to patch small areas of peeling veneer. But in many cases, it’s better to remove peeling veneer completely and sand so you have a smooth surface to paint or stain.
Can you believe this is the same card catalog?
I love the contrast of the paint and stain.
And remember that missing hardware?
I didn’t want to spring for replacement brass drawer rods for the card catalog, so I made my own hardware.
Can you guess what I used?
A little wood glue holds them in place.
Can you tell which drawers have the real hardware and which ones have the DIY version? My husband couldn’t.