Here are tips on fixing defects on your wood furniture.
Sand or plane the surface to take out shallow defects in solid wood tops. If the wood is dented but not chipped, try to expand the wood using a wet pad after taking out polish, oil, or wax so that water can permeate. Whenever possible, apply steam by holding a hot iron over a damp cloth. Be careful to avoid burning.
To mend a scratch, apply a cloth dampened with denatured alcohol when scratch is only shellac-deep, or apply furniture polish having a wood dye, allowing a day for it to penetrate. Rub the surface using flannel cloth and furniture polish. If the scratch doesn't respond, take out the varnish from the area, rub carefully using fine sandpaper or steel wool, remove the dust, and put on varnish over the surface to be refinished. Build up to the level of the surrounding area. If the new finish makes a surface shinier than the surrounding area, rub using oil and pumice or fine rottenstone, or with a gauze cloth dampened with alcohol.
If a defect is quite deep to be removed by sanding or planing, mend it with shellac filler or a matching color. Clean the scratch, removing all loose or crushed wood fiber. Expand it if needed and undercut a bit. Apply stick shellac using a hot knife blade, filling the depression to surface level. Smooth the fill.
If the surface is quite damaged that neither of the preceding operations is practical, cover the entire surface using plywood or tempered Prestwood cemented down with woodworking glue. Get rid of the finish and sand the old surface until it is smooth and free from irregularities. Cut the edges of the covering flush with the old top edge. If the old edge is scarred, use a thin wood banding of like finish and species as the original surface. Be sure the top edge of the banding is flush with or rattling slightly under the surface level of the new top. Make the banding broad enough to cover both old edge and surface material. A tempered Prestwood surface need not be finished.
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