Inexpensive furniture fixes to avoid replacing it

You don't have to refinish a piece of wooden furniture, trim or floor just because it has a few scratches. Here is an easy, inexpensive way to find out what kind of finish you need to remove before you can disguise a scratch on your furniture.

Inexpensive furniture fixes to avoid replacing it

Test for finish remover

  • With this simple process, you'll be able to determine the kind of finish used on a piece of furniture, and the type of stripper you'll need to buy, saving both time and money.
  • When working with chemical finish removers, use eye protection, rubber gloves that are designed for this use and work in a well-ventilated place, such as a garage with opened doors.

What you need

  • Nail-polish remover
  • Cotton balls

What to do

Saturate a cotton ball in nail-polish remover and hold it briefly against an inconspicuous part of the furniture, such as the bottom of a chair runner, side of a drawer or back of a table leg.

  • If the furniture finish becomes sticky or begins to dissolve, it is a lacquer-based finish like shellac or oil-based varnish, and you should buy a liquid furniture refinisher or denatured alcohol to remove the finish.
  • If the covering is unaffected by nail-polish remover, it is a plastic-based varnish, such as polyurethane, and you should strip it with paint remover.

What you need

  • Crayons (colour depends on the furniture) or a felt-tip marker

What to do

  • Get a children's crayon in a colour that closely matches the wood's finish.
  • Burnt sienna, sienna and yellow ocher are among the most useful colours.
  • Then just rub the sharpened crayon over the scratch and buff to blend it in.
  • If you want permanent coverage, and the piece is less valuable, use a felt-tip marker instead; then apply paste wax as directed to add sheen.
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