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Collectibles-General (Antiques)/Cavalier Cedar Chest


Hi Eileen,
I have recently acquired my mom's old cedar chest and am wondering about restoring it myself.  The pattern # is 168 with a run # of 5759.  Not really sure what those mean.  The inside is in excellent shape, but the outside appears to have a type of veneer placed on it.  Can the veneer be removed?  It's hard to tell if the top is cedar, but appears to be when looking at the edges.  I'm not really looking at this as maintaining any monetary value, but rather restoring for a keepsake, as it was a wedding gift to my Mom & Dad.  My husband thinks the feet of the chest have been made from poplar.  So, if I proceed with removing the veneer, would you have any suggestions on how to accomplish this without damaging the wood underneath?  Or, would this even be possible?  If I can remove the veneer, what product would you suggest for final finishing?  Thanks for any suggestions you can lend.

Hi Amy
Nice to hear from you.
I get asked this question a lot.
I can only tell you what I have experienced and saw firsthand. goes
Veneer can be removed with little effort using a hot clothes iron and a flat scraper.
Simply place the hot iron directly on the wood. This softens the glue and allows you to insert the scraper underneath and lift the veneer. Just work in an area the size of the iron at a time. will mark you iron so use an old one.
Having said that Amy I will tell you I have never seen a piece look nice after this process.
You will find that the underlying wood was chosen by the maker with no thought to wood pattern, holes or knots. They did not have to worry about the looks of this wood as they were covering it with veneer.
Also consider the fact that the glue used on the veneer has penetrated the underlying wood and is terribly to get off if at all. And if its not all off, there is no way it will take a stain.
Without seeing your chest (a pic would be great), I cannot tell you if the box was constructed of solid cedar and covered with veneer or if it was constructed of a different wood with thin cedar inside that and veneer on the outside. I have seen both ways.
So if you are really determined to remove the veneer, I hope you have solid cedar underneath.
But remember the grain could look great inside and not so good on the side the veneer was glued to.
If you accomplished this, I would apply a simple tung oil finish to the wood.
And Amy get back to me if you have any other concerns
I hope this helps.
PS..I forgot to ask is the veneer so badly damaged it has too be removed? And if thats the case you really have nothing to loose. You can always paint the chest if the wood underneath is awful. Just sand really well and prime and paint.

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Eileen Cronk


I can answer most questions about the repairing and refinishing of all your old furniture items (the things we call antiques). I can also give you advice on what wood items to choose and what wood items to avoid at auctions, flea markets etc. I DO NOT give appraisals on antiques as this is not my field of expertise.


I have been repairing, refinishing and of course buying old furniture for the past 30 years. On any given weekend I can be found at auction sales or flea markets searching out a good buy. I have taken several courses in this area over the years, but I find "Hands On" learning to be the best teacher. I can help you avoid the pitfalls and problems of this wonderful rewarding craft.

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