Vintage gate leg table with missing severely damaged veneer

I asked Michael to ‘keep an eye out’ for a gate leg or drop leaf table.   SO, THIS is what he dragged home:

You can’t really SEE in this picture, because of the glare from the sun, but the veneer top is HALF missing!  It has been sitting for MONTHS while I racked my brain trying to think of HOW I can fix this much damage.  What was he thinking?!?!

But, in his defense, I must say that  I always tell him “It doesn’t matter how badly damaged a table top is, I can fix it (or work with the damage for a primitive look!).  Just be sure the LEGS are in good condition; because legs are hard to sand, and have to be done by hand.   I just didn’t ‘qualify’ that criteria by stating SOLID wood top.

And I did once fix up a damaged veneer top oak pedestal table.  But this current table is different.  One entire leaf of it had to have the veneer removed, which Michael did for me.  Then there were several ‘stripes’ of missing veneer.  Just sanding and re-staining was NOT going to cut it on this table.

I couldn’t really even just PAINT the top, because that just wouldn’t ‘go’ with the ornate legs.  AND you’d still be able to SEE how one side was slightly lower than the other when both ends are up.  If “I” were just going to use it myself, I wouldn’t care.  I’d just leave the bad side down and against a wall.  But we need to SELL this stuff!  What to do??? WHAT TO DO!?!?!

As I prepped the top by sanding, even MORE veneer peeled off!  YIKES.  This table top just may have to go to the dreaded ‘burn pile’;  salvage the legs  and add a new top.  Then it hit me!  COVER the top!!

With old book pages!  The above photo was taken while it was still a little wet.  Just use liquid laundry starch as your adhesive.  For a big job like this I use a paint brush to apply my starch.  Apply it to the surface, then to the back of the paper.  Place the paper and brush over it again with the starch.  The older the book, the more yellowed your pages will get.

Most of the small bubbles and buckling will diminish as the piece dries.  But you can always pull the paper back up if you need to reposition it or get big bubbles out.

Along the curved sides I just used the handle of my brush to ‘gently scrape’ along the curve, and tear away the excess.  Be sure your paper is very WET with starch while doing this, and tear VERY SLOWLY.

This picture shows how much more the paper yellows with the starch.  That paper is still wet, hence the blotchiness.   As you apply your paper, be mindful of the ‘pattern’ you are creating.  Try not to have it too matchy-matchy, but not TOO haphazard and busy either.

And here’s the finished table!  Lookin’ GOOD!!!  I haven’t added a sealer on top yet.  While it’s not ‘necessary’, for things like table and dresser tops that will get a lot of wear and tear, it’s a good idea.  Be sure to use WATER based MATTE varnish. You don’t want any SHINE.

This really is a pretty ‘quick and easy’ process.  Tear out all your book pages before you start the papering process.  I left the torn edge, but you can trim it away if you prefer.  You can ever trim away the entire border if you wish.  OR add some additional pages on top at different angles, like I did with the picture pages on this desk.   *(Notice the difference the AGE of the book pages makes!)

This is a very ‘flexible’ look.  Soft enough to be blended in with shabby chic.  And ‘heavy’ enough to go with the primitive look.

But be forewarned!  It is ADDICTIVE!  Once you finish your first project, you’ll be wandering around the house looking for MORE things to paper!

I used pages from an old church hymnal for this cylinder storage box (almost a foot stool size).

SPECIAL HINT FOR LAMP SHADES:  Paper the INSIDE as well as the outside.  When the light shines through, all you seams and overlaps are OVERLY obvious.  By double layering your paper (one layer outside and one layer inside) it will minimize this.

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thank you so much for this idea. I have an old English armoire that had some water damage and the veneer is coming off. I may use this technique.

  2. What a clever idea! thanks for sharing!!


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