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Handyman on Call

Why is the veneer lifting off his cabinets?

Q. Our kitchen cabinets (about 6 or 7 years old) are solid wood as are all the internal structures. But the end panels are veneered, and on the front edges the veneer is lifting from the solid wood base. The lift goes back from a half inch to an inch. They could be clamped by removing the adjacent cabinet door. What do you suggest?


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A. For a veneer to lift after six or seven years indicates that a lot of water was used during repeated cleaning. Call the installer to see if he can make repairs.

You can reglue the panels by lifting the veneer and inserting carpenter’s glue, then clamping. It might be tricky to clamp, but I suggest you put a narrow board on each side of the veneer for C-clamps to press evenly. Be sure to put waxed paper between the veneer and the boards to prevent any seeping glue from holding things together where it shouldn’t.

Q. I’m writing to you with the hope that you can help me figure out, specifically, how to separate the two knobs of a number of locks in my house. I’m in the process of painting the interior of my house and I want to remove the knobs to both clean them up (they’ve been painted around several times) and make painting easier. To date, no one (2 locksmith shops, 4 different locksmiths, and a hardware store) has been able to figure it out.


A. It’s rare to find seven or more professionals to be stumped by an old lock set, or latch set. I have several that attach by screws through the bell of the knob, but no middle shaft. I think your best bet is to call the company, EZ Set, to see if they are in business and know what to tell you. Also, since you already took one of the sets out of the door, why not clean them as they are? But be careful; I think the brass has a coating on it that keeps it to a high polish.

Q. I live on the third floor of an 1890s Victorian that was converted into condos in the 1980s. Heating is by gas-heated circulating water. It takes several minutes for hot water to reach the taps in my unit. Is there any way to speed that up?


A. The hot water you are waiting for doesn’t come from the heating system, but this is what you can do. Call your plumber to see if he can install a water-saving device, or get in touch with the manufacturer: ACT, Inc. Metlund Systems.

Q. In my new addition, which is well insulated top, bottom, and sides, and has many windows and a French door, is mortal cold this winter. How can I make it comfortable?


A. If you have gas in the house, and it is inadequate, install a gas-fired fireplace. It will heat that addition well. It might also be wise to remove some of those heat-sink windows. Since the crawl space is open and its ceiling insulated, you can enclose it just to keep the critters out. Be sure to ventilate it.

Globe Handyman on Call Peter Hotton also appears in the Sunday Real Estate section. He is available 1-6 p.m. Tuesdays to answer questions on house repair. Call 617-929-2930. Hotton ( also chats online about house matters 2-3 p.m. Thursdays. Go to
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