What glue to use in this application?
October 23, 2013 12:44 PM   Subscribe

I have great old speakers with peeling wood veneer. How should I go about fixing them?

This is one of my speakers.
This is a crappy picture of a top corner of the speaker. Notice the very bad peeling of both the side and top veneer? Not good.

The veneer is a paper-thin walnut. My searching for advice/instruction has left me confused and uncertain as to how to proceed. What glue would work best to re-attach the veneer? My first inclination would be contact cement. It's a strong, immediate bond. But, some sites I've visited recommend old-school yellow woodworking glue. I'm not keen on that approach as I don't have tools to clamp the veneer down. All the sites I've visited, though, seem to assume a heavier veneer than the one I'm dealing with. And, that what-glue-do-I-use? website doesn't have this as a category.

On the last trip to my local big-box, the only contact cement I could find was a tube of some latex-based stuff that specifically says not for use with thin wood veneers. So, that's out.

Another complication is that every site says to scrape off the old glue first. Well, I can't see how I can get in the gap to remove old glue without snapping off the veneer.

Also, some places say to use a hypodermic needle to get glue deep into the opening, but I have no clue where one might procure a syringe and needle.

So, obviously, I'm a bit lost here. Can any wood-savvy MeFites chime in with some suggestions?
posted by Thorzdad to Grab Bag (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The big-box should have real contact cement somewhere. Weldwood brand is what's sitting here with me and is specifically marketed as being for veneers and wood. It's exactly what you want. Or at least, it's what I've always used for things like this. Also use it to hold the soles on my shoes, hold up the headliner in my car, etc. Great stuff.

Personally, I'd try to gently shim it so it's held as far apart as possible, then use a little brush to get it as deep in as possible. Wait a half hour and stick it together. Done. If it comes apart again, then you can start worrying about "proper" solutions.
posted by pjaust at 12:52 PM on October 23, 2013

I've had awful luck with contact cement and wood veneers. It lets the veneer crawl enough that with humidity changes you're pretty much guaranteed bubbling.

The simplest method if you don't have clamps or vacuum bagging: Get Titebond I or II (not III, probably prefer I for this application). Spread on both surfaces (I've actually used a fine hacksaw blade, ridge side down, to get an even spread). Let dry 1 hour (and no longer than 12!), and then use a clothes iron to iron the veneer on to your surface.

Hardest most solid veneer glue job you could ask for, no clamping, no trying to control squeeze out during glue-up.

If you do get cracks in the drying veneer (the veneer will expand when it's wetted with the glue, and then dry with the ironing), put a little cyanocrylate glue (the runny "Krazy Glue" like stuff) in the cracks, and sand over it with 220 grit sandpaper. Fill those cracks right back up, nobody will ever notice.
posted by straw at 12:54 PM on October 23, 2013

Maybe a hot glue gun?
posted by easily confused at 12:57 PM on October 23, 2013

This may be far enough off topic as to be deletion worthy, and I'm ok with that, but I wanted to put forth the notion that your best bet may be to rebuild the boxes altogether.

I say that because fixing the veneer, at least in my experience, is going to be an aggravating job, is likely to be noticeable, and is an indicator that the other corners are due for the same issue (and soon).

Replacing the woodwork altogether shouldn't be that bad as you already have all the measurements/parts at hand and your speakers are obviously important to you so the work isn't going to waste.

Just my opinion. Good luck.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:29 PM on October 23, 2013

Seconding the Titebond 1 suggestion. You don't have to have clamps if you have some heavy stuff around and can lay the speaker down and put the heavy stuff on top of the repaired area.
posted by sleevener at 2:34 PM on October 23, 2013

Response by poster: straw...Can I assume that iron is hot? How hot? Cotton and linen hot? Or synthetics hot? Would you put a cloth on the veneer surface?
posted by Thorzdad at 2:54 PM on October 23, 2013

Cotton hot. You could put a cloth on the surface, but I just went straight on the veneer. Remember you're talking about natural wood fibers (at least with unfinished veneer), so it's kinda like cotton but without all the thin independent fibery bits. It'll darken and char if you stop too long, so don't. And you can feel when you've got it. Move away from an edge, let it cool, and try to lift the veneer, if you can you didn't heat it enough.

This is assuming you're going to try to replace the veneer. If you're going to patch it you may have issues with adhesives and finishes already there.
posted by straw at 4:01 PM on October 23, 2013

This site is awesome: http://www.thistothat.com/
posted by squirbel at 5:53 PM on October 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

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