How to repair wooden furniture

November 23, 2014

It’s tough to live with wooden furniture without life leaving a mark — literally. Even if you’re careful, at some point you may need to repair a scratch, ding, dent, or worse.
There’s no reason to look to a professional for most wooden furniture repairs. You can fix most stains and small nicks with a few items that are readily available at any hardware store. If you own a lot of wooden furniture, it’s a good idea to keep a few supplies handy for the occasional repair:

  • Touch-up markers
  • Lint cloth
  • Paste wax
  • Furniture wax sticks in variety of colours
  • Clear nail polish
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Steel wool
  • Auto polishing compound
  • Light grit sandpaper

Stains and discolouration

White rings are watermarks caused when water, usually condensation from a glass, penetrates the wood finish. Tackle the surface stain with a soft cloth very lightly dampened with denatured alcohol. The alcohol will remove the finish so confine your activity to only the affected area, pressing just enough to clear the mark. Once the area has dried, apply a matching finish.

Surface scratches

If a scratch is in the finish and not the wood, it should be light enough to use products right out of your kitchen. Use what’s available first and try other solutions if needed.

  • Lightly rub a mixture of equal parts lemon juice and olive oil into the scratch with a soft lint cloth.
  • Lightly rub the meat of a nut (walnut and pecan work well) along the scratch.
  • Match the wood finish with a crayon or marker.
  • Steep some black tea to a shade similar to the wood finish. Once it cools, drip the tea into the stain to return the finish to the same colour.

Worn edges

If an edge or section has worn away from overuse, try a wood marker. Wood markers come in a variety of tones to suit different wood finishes. Apply to the area and wipe gently with a soft cloth. Once you’ve achieved the desired look, finish with a light coat of paste wax.


Repair chips in clear finish by filling with clear nail polish. Wait until polish dries, then lightly sand using a fine grit sandpaper. Finish with a light coat of paste wax to shine.


You can try to coax wood back to shape using heat and water. Add a few drops of water to the dent, letting the water penetrate the surface and let sit for a day. This may be enough to raise the dent in softer woods. If there is some progress, repeat; if not, press a damp cloth over the dent with an iron for a few seconds. The combination of heat and moisture should do the trick.

With these simple home repair tips you don’t need to be an expert craftsman to repair your wooden furniture and keep it looking new.

How to repair wooden furniture
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