I own a small couch table with a pattern made of veener on top (picture 1). As far as I can tell, the tabletop consists of at least three layers:

  1. Massive wood
  2. A layer of thin veneer
  3. An unidentified but glossy coating (might be varnish or wax?)

While the veneer (layer 2) is intact, the unidentified coating is damaged. There are areas on the tabletop where the coating is completely rubbed off (picture 2, 3). Multiple fine cracks can be seen all over the table top.

My question:

I'd love to get your input on my question: How can I restore / repair the table? I would prefer to do it in a way so that the tabletop becomes as pretty as it once was and as resilient as possible.

Thanks a lot in advance :)


Picture 1: View of the tabletop enter image description here

Picture 2: Detailed view of an area with damaged coating enter image description here

Picture 3: Residue of the coating on a white sheet of paper (each particle is less than 1mm in size) enter image description here

  • It's hard to be sure of everything that is going on here but, at minimum, you're looking at a strip and refinish. Both jobs aren't necessarily something you should consider trying yourself if you have no experience, especially if the piece is valuable (either in real terms or has sentimental value). Stripping an existing finish is a messy, tedious and often smelly job and with modern safer/greener strippers the process can pose a greater risk of causing damage to veneers because they may contain water, and if the table is old enough the veneer will be adhered with a water-sensitive glue. – Graphus Feb 10 at 18:50
  • Thanks for your comment, @Graphus :-) I had not thought of a chemical stripper but was thinking about carefully and manually stripping of the stripper using sand paper and then applying new coating. Would you advice against that? – Maximilian C. Feb 12 at 14:49
  • You can find numerous previous Answers where I talk about why old finishes shouldn't be removed by sanding if you want to read more on this in context. But briefly, sanding is the worst way to remove finish and one of the main reasons for this is the potential for damage. With veneered pieces in particular there's a great risk of sanding right through the veneer, especially if the piece is modern because modern veneers became increasingly very much thinner than they used to be — now often under 0.5mm! – Graphus Feb 13 at 7:47

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