I’m going to share how to remove veneer from wood and get a Restoration Hardware style finish for today’s project. I saw the most incredible vintage mirror a while back. I didn’t buy it because it was a little on the pricey side. But I didn’t forget it either, I couldn’t because it was that awesome. The antique dealer told me she removed the veneer from the wood mirror to expose the gorgeous patina underneath.
It looked a lot like the deconstructed style of Restoration Hardware furniture. I wanted that mirror! Just not with the price tag. I couldn’t believe my luck when a few weeks ago I found this one sitting against an old abandoned house. Weathered and falling apart. You know I had to take it home and try my hand at removing the veneer too ;). I did the same thing with this dresser makeover and used wax paste for a natural finish.
Do you see that beautiful wood peeking through?
Removing veneer from wood isn’t hard, just tedious. I started by removing the mirror from the wood frame and set it aside. Next I soaked the mirror frame with wet towels for a few days and worked the veneer off bit by bit. I kept pouring water over the towels to keep them drenched. I used a butter knife because I didn’t have my other tools but a rounded edge plastic putty knife may be a better choice.
Allow the frame to dry after removing the veneer and sand the surface lightly. I used 22o grit to take off dark spots of discoloration and smooth any rough spots.
The final touch was a coat of Anne Sloan Clear Wax on the raw wood before I put the mirror back in the frame. I used clear wax over stain when I built my four poster bed and love the buttery soft feel of the wax on the wood.
I don’t think this is a very old mirror, because it’s not really heavy. But it looks vintage now and the price was right. I think this may be my best trash to treasure project yet. You can’t do better than free right?
This finish looks great here in the North House but I’d use it in a second in our beach house too!
Have you passed on old items with peeling veneer before? Now that you know how to remove veneer from wood to expose a beautiful patina are you ready to tackle a veneer project yourself?
Pin this for a future project!
I’d do another one in a minute!
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Your mirror looks perfect in its new home. What a lucky break for you to find it.
If I didn’t have to work, I’d head up to VT to help you with your house. We could have so much fun!
Hi Paula & thank you! I love the mirror and especially that it didn’t cost anything:) Yes, we would have fun and I could totally use the help! My to do list is intimidatingly long! LOL Thanks so much for your visit!
The mirror came out fantastic. It doesn’t look like the same mirror. I am running through my trash oops treasures I have in the garage to try this out.
Hi Debra, and yes you need to find something to try this method on. It not only works well but there’s a beautiful under-layer just waiting to be discovered! This is honestly one of my favorite pieces now! Thanks so much for your visit and good luck finding a project piece!
Jaclyn | One Thousand Oaks says
What an awesome find! That mirror is beautiful!
Hi Jaclyn and thank you! I am thrilled with how well it turned out, especially since it was free! Thanks so much for your sweet comment and visit:)
Marie, The Interior Frugalista says
The mirror looks gorgeous, Wendi and perfect above your North House fireplace (which I bet has been coming in handy). The wet towel method works like a charm every time. Talk about determination, peeling the veneer off with a butter knife!
Hi Marie. I’m loving the mirror. My family thought I was nuts when I found it and wanted it. I knew there was potential under all that peeling veneer! Yes, I use the fireplace a lot and am very happy I have it! On the butter knife… you realize how many tools you’ve collected when you need them. A butter knife was the best I could do! Ha, lucky for me it worked:) Thanks for your visit my friend!
What a beautiful transformation, it is perfect in the North house, but I think it would be perfect in just about any house in any part of the country. It is just one of those pieces you fall in love with and it looks beautiful anywhere.
You did a beautiful job as usual Wendi, I love it.
Hi Patty! Who would have thought the under-layer of wood had so much potential? I’d totally bring this down to Fl with me but it’s perfect here. Now that I know what to look for I’m keeping my eye out for another one to bring home with me. Hope your fall is going well so far and the weather has been good. I’m assuming your leaves are all turned by now:)
Loved the finish look. Did you replace the mirror or just clean it up. If so – what did you clean it with because it looks great too.
Hi Becky, I just cleaned the mirror up with plain old window cleaner. It was really dirty from sitting outside for who knows how long before I found it. It was worn in some places but I think the worn spots added character. Thanks so much for your note & visit!
Mary-the boondocks blog says
Wendi this looks really great. The beauty of the wood really shines through. And that technique is very clever too. I am pinning this for future use.
hi Mary & thank you! This project was so much fun to try. I knew what I was hoping it would turn out like but wasn’t sure until the end if my vision on reality would meet! Thank goodness it did! I’d try this technique on other items too. I can imagine the amazing patinas that lie under old beat up wood veneer;) Thanks as always for your sweet note my friend!
Geri Ann says
Beautiful Wendy, you have great vision!!!
Hi Geri Ann and thank you! My family thought I was crazy toting the broken down mirror all the way back to Vermont. I knew it was going to look amazing when it was done…or at least I hoped it would! LOL Thanks so much for leaving me a note.
I’ve heard that using a hair dryer will help melt the glue that holds the veneer. Did you find that the wet towel method worked better?
That’s a good question Janet. I didn’t find any glue on this one. I think a hair dryer or heat gun would be a good item to have ready just in case. It could be because it was left outside a long time or that it was old and it had dissolved. From what I’ve seen from other blogging friends the wet towel method is a good one and used in conjunction with adding heat when needed. Hope I answered your question well. Thanks so much for your note:)
Susan Bedard says
Wow It looks beautiful. Congratulations on your Vermont home. I’m sure it will be beautiful once you but all your touches on it.
Hi Susan and thank you:) I couldn’t believe my luck in finding this awesome mirror, I knew it would look amazing after I got the veneer off. I’m excited about having a new place that needs a lot of work, it has great bones! Thanks so much for your visit and your kind note!
Julie Gaffey says
It looks amazing Wendi. What a fabulous transformation. Love it.
Hi Julie and thank you! I fell in love with the mirror that was already done and couldn’t believe my luck at finding one to try my hand at finishing. It’s not hard to do 🙂 Thanks so much for your visit and comment!
Beautifully perfect! Was just looking at the RH catalogs, and yep, you nailed it!
Hi Mag & thank you! I drool every time I open a Restoration Hardware catalog 🙂 I’d love to try one of the deconstructed chairs next! …maybe wen I find the perfect shape chair I will. Thanks so much for your visit!
Tami @ Curb Alert! says
Wendi, great job. What a beautiful makeover that I’m sure you will enjoy for a very long time!
Love it. Got any ideas for door handles in original doors from 1910? Was all excited to Reseration Hardware til I saw the prices. 5 door knobs. On a happier note I am going to try – no am going too
make a fireplace out of wood bed slats. I want a a fireplace!
Debbie Rowback says
Good for you Jody, I say, “You go girl”! I would love to see how it turns out.