Repairing Minor Wood Finish Damage
Wooden furniture and other wooden surfaces are vulnerable to a number of types of damage. Water stains, chemicals spilled on the wood, splinters, and burns are just a few of the reasons for wood finish damage. Luckily, many of these minor accidents are easy to fix.
Perhaps the most common wood finish damage are the rings left by wet glasses. The first thing to try is using furniture polish on the spots. If that doesn't work, wipe the damaged surface very lightly with denatured alcohol. Use a very small amount of alcohol, as this can also damage the finish.
A gentle abrasive can be purchased or made at home to remove the stains from the furniture. To make a gentle abrasive, mix linseed oil or mineral oil with cigarette ashes to make a paste. Rub this paste into the wood and wipe it off with a soft cloth. This may need to be repeated before waxing and polishing the furniture.
Another reason for wood finish damage is wood that has splintered off. Tables and chairs are especially prone to splintering around the edges. Remove the splinter or splinters, and apply wood putty. Let the putty dry and sand it if necessary. Stain and finish the spot to match the rest of the item.
Chemicals can also cause damage to wood finish. Nail polish remover is a common culprit in wood finish damage, as people often set down the bottle on a nightstand or dresser. To ensure matching, the entire surface should be stripped, using a commercial stripper. Stain the wood the desired color and apply lacquer or another type of sealant.
Scratches are another kind of wood finish damage. A quick fix can be performed by breaking a nut in half — try a walnut or pecan — and rubbing the nut along the scratch, letting the nut's oils come in contact with the scratch, darkening it and making it less noticeable. When scratches are deeper, furniture-patching wax sticks can be used. These sticks come in different colors, and are used to fill the scratch with wax of the color closest to the finish. Wipe off excess wax and buff the area. If there are scratches over a very large area, the entire surface should be refinished.
Gouges and cracks can often be filled with wood putty or putty sticks. Putty sticks are easiest for small holes or cracks. For larger spots, wood filler or putty can be applied to the hole, and let dry for at least two days. Then it can be sanded down and stained to match the rest of the wood.
Burns on furniture are often caused by cigarettes or candles. Remove the damaged wood with a craft knife, then sand the groove or hole left. Fill with wood filler or putty in the same way that you would repair any other hole or crack in wood furniture.
Depending upon the extent of the damage, the furniture may have to be restored by a professional furniture restorer.
Written by Bronwyn Harris
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