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Collectibles-General (Antiques)/China cabinet side panel water damage


QUESTION: Well I guess everyone has heard this story. I purchased a 100 year old Hernden China cabinet and it got wet and the wood on the side is bubbling up. It is solid wood and I am hoping that Ivan fix it. Ahold I sand it down and restain it? I have refinished other antiques before.
Should I put a warm light on it? Would that take any of the bubbles out?
Just thinking.
Your directions please
Thank you

ANSWER: Hi Bonnie
Nice to hear from you.
The wood that is bubbling is called veneer.
It is very thin wood glued over solid cheaper wood.
When it gets wet it bubbles as yours does.
If you got to the wood when it was still wet, you might have had a chance to get it back down by applying pressure.
Bit now it will be dried I'm sure.
The first thing you can try is a warm iron ran over the area which may soften the glue underneath and it may restick. Use a towel under the iron so you do not damage the veneer further.
Or you can glue the veneer back down with carpenters glue.
You must have a few clamps on hand to apply pressure so the glue sticks.
Bonnie this can be tricky if you have never attempted it before and often the veneer has expanded and does not want to go back in place.
Wish I had a picture of the extent of the damage.
Please get back

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Wow! I'm impressed with your promptness and knowledge. Thanks.
I am going to try to send to your attention some pix for you to see. (via E.mail)
Are you stating that solid wood does not bubble up? or swell up?
The lamp that I am hoping you can see has done miraculous things. It appears that the wood is less swollen.  
I am going to try to do the iron. If not I will work with the carpenters glue.
The damage just happened when we got caught in a rainstorm bring the piece home in our truck.
Thank you again.

Hi again Bonnie
I am stating that solid wood does not bubble up. But it can swell.
Solid wood warps, veneer bubbles up.
In any event, I am really wanting to see the pictures to determine whats happening here.
The piece was wet for only a short time apparently and I just cannot see solid wood doing this with a bit of moisture...or even a lot of moisture in a short time.
Talk soon

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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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