Cabinet Panel Veneer Repair

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 Common Problems / Posted 3 years ago / 921 views

Updated 1/21/2017

Simple Approaches:

  1. Heating the curled veneer with a heat gun or hair drier will make the panels flatten out. However, they will re-curl when they cool. Using a good wood glue such as Tightbond Elmer’s White Glue, contact cement, etc. or Gorilla glue (Gorilla glue expands when it dries)  apply the glue under the subject panel. Use a palette knife, tiny artist’s brush or syringe with a large diameter needle to apply the glue. Clean excess glue with a damp cloth. Heat the panel. Once flat clamp it in position.  Use wax paper or a piece of wood or other material between the veneer and the clamp. Once the glue has dried, remove the clamp and trim any excess glue . A plastic palette knife works well for trimming.
  2. Use a teflon sheet from the kitchen section Walmart, oak wood blocks and $5.00 cheapo clamps from Harbor Freight. Use a artists small paint brush to apply the Gorilla glue in under the edges, wipe off excess with wet paper towel and clamp the panel down. The teflon will not stick in the glue. the Gorilla glue drys clear so if there is a little squeeze out you can not notice it.

 

Comprehensive Approach: (by Ed Buker)

I have written about this subject before, but with new owners out there, the age of our coaches, and the fact that I decided to “do them all” caused me to find solutions for gluing the fridge door panels and the pocket doors without having to pull the coach apart, that I will share. It is an easy project to do and a good winter project. Full timers could glue a couple of panels at a time at a picnic table on a warm day and let the clamped panels dry in the bay or in the toad.

On close examination I found some amount of delamination on about 80% of the coach cabinet doors. For the bathroom door I pulled the hinge pins and removed it, for the smaller doors I loosen the single adjustment screw on the hinges and slide them off. For the fridge door panels, and the pocket doors, I glued them in place.

I use a pallet knife (source below), It is the ideal tool for the job. This is the only tool I can think of that works this well for buttering the glue. Tightbond 2 Wood Glue, a West Marine Epoxy Plastic Mixing Stick, blocks of wood, clamps, and wax paper are also needed. For the pocket door you will need several bundles of synthetic shim shingles from HD or Lowes. For the fridge door panels a Bessey Strap Clamp which is available at HD or Lowes.

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Photos Glue 1,2,3, have clamped panels to give you an idea on the type of blocks and clamps that work well for the job.

Photo Glue 4, Take the Tight Bond Glue Nozzle and butter both sides of the pallet knife.

Photo Glue 5, Hold the gap open if need be with the West Plastic Mixing Stick and work the glue in with the pallet knife in sections. Lastly, I then work the knife back and forth along the whole delaminated area to assure a thin uniform glue coating on both the veneer and the wood face to be glued. I butter the entire delaminated region on a panel that will be held together with a single block set and clamp set. Then clamp and move onto another region in the same veneer panel or a new door panel as needed.

Photo Glue 6, Before clamping, press down the veneer along the edge, working the length of the glued area, push out the excess glue and wipe away the excess with a 1/4 sheet of paper towel. Sometimes a lightly dampened one will help after the bulk is wiped away.

Photo Glue 7, Place the appropriate amount of wax paper to cover the glued area.

Photo Glue 8, Clamp for about 2 hours. You are trying to clamp the appropriate amount of time to allow the glue that squeezed out to partially cure so it strips easily with minimal wet glue. I use the pallet knife tip to separate the squeezed out glue or sometimes a fingernail will work best. After stripping the excess glue I re-clamp for about 8 hours to be sure the bond is cured well.

After doing a couple of panels you will get a good sense of how much glue to apply, how much to squeezes out, and easily deal with the excess glue clean up. The nice thing is, this glue does not stick well to the lacquered door surfaces and after the final cure if there is any residual glue it still comes off.

 

In photo 9 you will see the amount of glue push out that you can expect after clamping for several hours. When the palette knife glue application and hand pressing out of the excess was done properly the excess is manageable. Sometimes if the lifted veneer area is large, rather than press using my fingers, I press the veneer panel with the wood blocks and the clamps while wet, remove the wax paper, wood blocks and clamps, and then remove the wet excess glue. I put down fresh wax paper and then re-clamp the panel for the 2 hours.

In photo 10 you can see the tip of the rounded palette knife being used to strip the partially cured glue. The palette knife is flexible enough to arc the blade and work it along the joint. I use my finger nail at times and a lightly dampened paper towel, whatever works best. When the glue is removed and the joint is clean of excess glue I then re-clamp with the wax paper, wood blocks, and leave it clamped for 8 hours. If a little additional glue squeezes out, it will be minor, and it will be removed at the 8hr unclamping time.

In photo 11 I am gluing the refrigerator veneer panels. This one will want to be done when the fridge is off and you are not on the road. The Bessey strap clamp strap is worked around the entire door. The strap will go around the wood panel with the two stacked wood blocks that are placed over the lifted veneer section, then around the interior plastic door panel and then attached back to the clamp head which I located on the outer door edge. The fridge door is left open during this gluing process. The clamp tightens as you rotate the handle. I use just enough force to flatten the veneer and push out the glue. The gluing routine is basically the same as before, just a different stye clamp is used.

In photo 12 I am gluing the pocket door. This one is important to have on your list if the lifted veneer is scraping on the pocket door frame as you open or close the pocket door. The veneer could catch and be broken off. The trick here is to use the pocket door frame as the clamping device. You will butter the edge with glue of a veneer panel that is lifted along one vertical section of the door and glue it in place while parking the door in the best position to use the pocket door frame and the shim shingles as the clamp. In order to remove the excess glue each section will have to be “clamped” with the shims several times, once to force the excess glue out, once to clamp for several hours, and then the final clamping until the glue is fully cured. The door will be then indexed to a top or bottom of a veneer panel section and then you will be gluing that section when the prior section is complete. Eventually the other vertical side of a veneer panel can be done by indexing the door in the opening appropriately for clamping with the shingles. Basically you can get about a 3 or 4 inch width of clamping force at a time with this shim shingle method. Both the fridge and the pocket door are projects to be done when not on the road. You will lose access to the bathroom. As part of this procedure I use a shingle or a bock of wood at the floor level between the door and the door frame to brace the pocket door on the bathroom side. This holds the door from moving away when the clamping shim shingles are pushed in place on the kitchen side. I start at the top of the veneer section being glued and work my way down using pairs of shingles in a stack. The trick is to gently work them in place, by adding a new shingle stacks along the vertical, and then lightly pushing on all the shingle stacks above the new one to keep the pressure and friction even along the vertical. This is so that none of the shingles fall out due to the door or frame flexing due to too much force on a single shingle pair flexing the door causing the ones above it to drop out. It is not hard, you just have to get a feel for it and keep them all in place as you work along the glue joint.

So that is it, a way to glue all the panels with minimal tools and minimal disassembly. These coaches have beautiful woodwork and this gluing goes a long way in keeping your coach cabinetry in top shape.

(This article is also available on the BAC Forum. Search for Cabinet Door Veneer by Ed Buker)

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