Handling Scratched Wood Furniture

Written by Bonnie Roberts (last updated September 13, 2021)

No matter how careful you are with your wood furniture, it will inevitably become scratched, especially if you have kids or pets. Scratches aren't the end of the world, so don't have a meltdown. It's pretty easy to repair or conceal them.

First you'll need to determine if the scratch is just in the finish or if it goes into the wood itself. If you lose sight of the scratch in different angles and lightings, it's probably just in the finish. However, if the scratch is a lighter color than the surrounding area, it's a deeper scratch that has penetrated into the wood. You'll have to darken the scratch to obscure it from view.

To repair scratches that are just in the finish, try one of the following tips:

  • Mix olive oil and lemon juice together in equal parts. Apply to a soft, clean cloth and rub it on the furniture in the direction of the scratch.
  • Obtain paste wax and coat the furniture with it. This method obscures many minor scratches.
  • If the surface has a hard urethane coating, you may need to sand the scratch with fine-grit sandpaper, moistened with water. Since the sanded area will appear dull, you'll need to shine it using paste wax and steel wool.
  • For a laquered finish, obtain a solvent that will act as a thinner. Apply it to the area with a brush. As the finish softens, the brush will smooth it into the scratch. Let the finish sit overnight to harden again.

To obscure scratches in the wood itself, use one of the following suggestions to darken the scratch, then polish or wax the wood. The scratch should disappear.

  • Since oils in nuts darken wood, break open a nut and gently rub the meat into the scratch. Pecans, walnuts, almonds, or Brazil nuts work best.
  • Select an eyebrow pencil the color of the surrounding finish and carefully color in the scratch.
  • Select a wax crayon to match the finish and rub it into the scratch, using a fingernail or plastic card to remove excess wax.
  • Apply the right color of shoe polish to the scratch. Paint on liquid polish using a fine brush and apply paste-style polish with a cotton swab.
  • Apply iodine to the scratch using a fine brush. Let it dry, and add more coats if the scratch is still showing a lighter color. This works well for darker-colored wood, such as mahogany. For lighter woods, use denatured alcohol to dilute the iodine first.
  • Finally, you can purchase commercial stains, markers, or pencils marketed for wood touch-ups and repairs.

Your wood furniture should now be looking good as new. You can use these tips to repair wood trim as well.

Author Bio

Bonnie Roberts


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