Hide a Sanded-Through Spot

This simple technique repairs damaged veneer.

  • Hide a Sanded-Through Spot

    Get a little too aggressive with your sander and in a heartbeat you can cut right through the thin face veneer on plywood. On highly visible workpieces, such as a cabinet top, you'll probably need to replace the damaged workpiece. But it might be worth trying this trick first. If the damaged spot is in an inconspicuous location, it might never be seen. Practice on scrap, then work on your project. What have you got to lose?

    Note: This fix works only on lumber-core plywood. With MDF-core plywood, the substrate will absorb finish and turn dark, so either replace the part or patch the veneer. Test your technique first on scrap, especially when working with a dark veneer, such as walnut, that contrasts with the light-color core plies.

  • Create some grain

    The grain on the layer beneath the veneer runs perpendicular to the surface layer. Use a sharp razor knife to replicate the surrounding veneer grain pattern in the substrate. Make some shallow slices and some slightly deeper.

  • Blend to match color

    Using yellow, tan, and light-brown colored pencils, blend the sanded-through area with the veneer. Long strokes in the direction of the grain help enhance the grain look.

  • Add in some rays

    Use a fine-tip dark-brown pencil to draw in ray flecks, overlapping them onto the surrounding veneer. Let the nearby grain guide the length and spacing of your rays.

  • Complete the cover-up

    With the spot camouflaged, spray on a coat of clear shellac to seal the wood -- brushing may lift the colored pencil marks. A coat of gel stain provides a uniform color. Create additional "grain" by lightly wiping on a second coat of gel stain over the spot, leaving light streak marks.

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