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Preparing Furniture for Decoupage

Many of your have sent emails asking for advice, so I have decided to add a few tips to help you get started. As I find time I will continue to add more tips taking you through each step. This should be enough to keep you busy for now. If you have further questions I will be happy to answer.

Look for furniture with good construction such as drawers that do not stick, no missing legs or other necessary components (unless you are able to reproduce these missing components). Missing hardware, peeling paint and veneers, and broken carving is okay even preferred for decoupage. Look beyond the ugly finishes and missing unnecessary components and at the piece itself. Does this piece of furniture have good lines? Would I want this in my house? Are the repairs needed simple? Is the damage superficial? Are the doors or drawer fronts warped? How much of my time is needed to make this suitable for decoupage? All of these questions are important to consider when choosing your furniture. Choose carefully and do not spend too much money on a piece that needs a lot of work.

Painted Finishes

  1. Peeling Veneers
  2. Loose joints or components (such as legs, carving, etc).
  3. Warped doors or drawer fronts

Painted Finishes
If the paint is in great condition (no peeling, no flaking, relatively new) just coat it with Kilz, Zinser or a suitable undercoating. If the paint is peeling or flaking you must either remove the offending paint with a paint remover or sand it off. For a large piece I would recommend paint remover. (Never have a piece of furniture dipped it could fall apart and cause irreversible damage). Always follow the manufacturer's instructions and wear protective clothing and masks. Paint is best removed outdoors or in a well-ventilated area. Once the paint is removed you must sand and seal the wood with any good wood sealer.

Peeling Veneers
Veneers that are loose and peeling must be removed. This can be difficult because although pieces are loose there will be parts that seem to be stuck forever. There is no easy way to remove stubborn veneers you must loosen the veneer with a sharp chisel and chip away. Please use caution and always work with the chisel pointed away from your vital organs and wear gloves. Sometimes small pieces of the veneer is missing. If this happens to be the case, make sure the remaining veneer is not loose and fill with wood filler. Sand to even the surface. Once the veneer is repaired you must sand to degloss the surface. An undercoating never hurts.

Loose Joints or Carving
Loose joints and carvings must be reglued. Fresh glue will not stick well to dried glue, you must clean the old glue off all surfaces before regluing. You may use any of the commercial wood glues available at your local hardware store. Finally to get a really good bond the glue must dry under pressure. Clamps work very well.

Warped Doors and Drawers
Warping is usually caused from moisture. Any wood that will warp from moisture can be "unwarped" with moisture. On a sunny day wet an area of grass. Place the hollow or concave side down on the wet grass and wait a few hours or a few sunny days. If one end or corner is warped more than the other, you must weight it down with a heavy object. When the board looks straight, take it inside and let it stand in even temperature for a few days. Sometimes the board will warp again so you must repeat the steps above. This is not the most sophisticated method but it works.

Once all of the repairs are made your "find" is ready for decoupage.


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