Ask the Carpenter: How to fix a veneer door, keep out carpenter bees

Ask the Expert
The veneer is separating from the doors in a reader's office building. Handout

Q. I am responsible for fixing the gaps in the veneer on all of our office doors. What is the best way to do this? I’ve tried wood glue and painter’s tape (don’t laugh). Putting on a new strip of veneer is not an option; the boss does not want me to do that.


A. You can try wood glue again or contact cement, which is what the veneer was put on with originally. Spread the cement/glue on the veneer and its substrate wherever an edge has lifted. Use bar clamps to span the door width. Clamp the repairs using wide pieces of wood to spread the pressure evenly. Cover these pieces with plastic wrap or wax paper so the adhesive won’t stick to them. If glue squeezes out the sides, wipe it up with a damp rag right away. If you are using contact cement, wipe up the extra with paint thinner.

When the glue/cement dries and the clamps come off, brush on a couple of coats of varnish, if needed.


Q. After recently giving my porch floor a thorough cleaning, I noticed fine shavings and a small hole in the ceiling. My son suggested that it could be bees, and, sure enough, I saw one coming out of the hole. Then I saw another hole with another bee at work. I used a lethal spray, which I really don’t like doing. I don’t think that’s a permanent solution. Also, I have two small dogs that enjoy the porch. I don’t want to take a chance that they will breathe in the fumes. What should I do?

B.S., Topsfield

A. It sounds as if you have carpenter bees. They look like bumblebees, but the males don’t have stingers, according to the University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment. “Female carpenter bees can inflict a painful sting but seldom will unless they are handled.’’

Carpenter bees look similar to bumblebees. —Adobe Stock

Carpenter bees are important pollinators. You should contact a local beekeeper, rather than an exterminator or trying to remove them yourself.

Carpenter bees like bare wood, but I’ve seen them burrow tunnels in painted wood, too.

People have had success with a nonsynthetic citrus and/or tea tree oil spray. Try to find a citrus-based spray specifically designed for carpenter bees, or be industrious and make one yourself. Cut up the rinds of several different citrus fruits (orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit) and boil them in a shallow pot filled with water. Fill a spray bottle with the concoction.

The problem with the citrus spray is that once carpenter bees have established a larvae nest, it’s too late to keep them from reproducing and starting the whole menacing cycle over again. You really should call in a professional.

When the bees are gone, seal up the holes and repaint.

Rob Robillard is a general contractor, carpenter, editor of, and principal of a carpentry and renovation business. Send your questions to or tweet them to @robertrobillard. Subscribe to our free real estate newsletter at