Q: We have a table covered with veneer. In the section where the pieces come to a point at the center, the veneer has bubbled up. I contacted the manufacturer but received no help. The table is about 35 years old, and I would be willing to have it refinished if necessary. The bubbled area has not been increasing. Is there any solution?
A: If you look online, you will find numerous postings and YouTube videos that say the solution is to cut a slit in the veneer with a sharp utility knife, inject glue via a syringe needle, cover the area with wax paper, and weight it down with a stack of heavy books or other weights.
That is indeed the best approach when the veneer was attached with modern glue, said Yasser Haridi, owner of Antiques & Furniture Restoration (703-437-7446; refinishing.org), a shop in Sterling that has done work for the Library of Congress and many embassies in Washington. But on tables where traditional hide glue was used, he takes an easier approach: He uses an iron and a damp cloth to gently steam the wood. The pressure flattens the bubble, and the heat and moisture reactivate the glue. So the veneer stays pinned down once the area cools.
With either method, it's likely that the tabletop will also need to be refinished. That would bring the total cost to $475 or more, depending on the size of the table, Haridi said. If you wanted the legs refinished, that could add substantially to the cost, especially if they have intricate details.
If you decide to attempt the repair on your own, see whether the iron trick works. If you need to go the syringe route and cannot find syringes at your local hardware store, order from a company such as Lee Valley, which sells a five-syringe set for $13.50. Use wood glue, such as Titebond II.
Q: I have a copper cake pan with a handle that has detached. Is there a way to fix this?
A: You have two options.
One solution would be to solder the flange of the handle back to where it used to be. If you're not skilled in soldering, the Brass & Copper Shop in Frederick, Md. (301-663-4240; brassandcoppershop.com), will do this for you. The charge would be about $35 to $45, store owner Don Reedy said in an email.
Or you could probably reattach the handle using an epoxy designed for use with metal. One product is QuikSteel Copper-Reinforced Epoxy Putty ($10.35 at amazon.com). The standard QuikSteel Steel-Reinforced Epoxy Putty ($5.99 at truevalue.com) would work equally well but would cure to a charcoal color rather than copper, said Clark Elmore, tech support manager for the Technical Chemical Co., which owns the QuikSteel brand. The type of metal reinforcing in the epoxy products is just a cosmetic issue, he said; the actual glue is the same.
Epoxy putty, which is also available from other brands, comes in a package that extrudes the basic epoxy and the required hardener in the proper proportions. To prepare the surfaces, polish them with steel wool or extra-fine sandpaper so that you see bright metal. Then open the package. "Tear off a chunk and mix it aggressively," Elmore said. To do this, knead the material with your fingers while wearing rubber or vinyl gloves. Apply it and prop up or fasten the pieces so they stay in place while the epoxy cures. If needed, dampen the gloves with tap water to keep the epoxy from sticking to them as you press it in place. The QuikSteel epoxies harden within five minutes and fully cure within an hour.