How To Treat Accidents on Wood

Oops! That's the one word you don't want to hear when it comes to the furniture in your home. No matter how careful you try to be, accidents are bound to happen occasionally, but knowing how to treat them can help minimize damage. Most minor accidents mar the finish. The finish on wood furniture helps protect the underlying wood from moisture and damage. The better the finish, the better the protection. Listed below are some of the most common accidents that happen to wood furniture and some suggested remedies.

White water rings are caused by water or heat which cloud the finish on wood furniture. If the marks are white or light in color, they are probably in the finish, and not in the wood itself. If the rings or spots are dark in color the water has probably penetrated the finish and damaged the wood, and you may need to refinish. To treat white water marks in the finish, begin by rubbing the affected area with a flannel or cotton cloth moistened with denatured alcohol or spirits of camphor. If this doesn't remove the white mark, try using toothpaste or a mild hand cleaner. Put a small amount of the toothpaste or hand cleaner on the spot and rub with a clean cloth or extra fine steel wool size 0000. Always rub with the grain. Another treatment that sometimes removes white water marks is to rub the spot with extra fine steel wool and mayonnaise. To treat white water rings on a wax finish, wipe the affected area with turpentine or cleaning wax and allow the area to dry. If the surface is dulled by removing the white water rings, apply a new coat of wax with a clean, dry cloth.

To repair small nicks and scratches in the wood finish, begin by cleaning the damaged area with naphtha. Then try rubbing oil stain, crayons, shoe polish or colored wax sticks into the affected area to camouflage the scratch. You can also try "painting" the scratch with a pointed art brush dipped in denatured alcohol. This will soften the finish and allow it to flow together. A paste made of rottenstone or pumice and linseed oil is also an effective scratch remover. Use a light touch and a soft cloth when rubbing. Finish by polishing or waxing the touched up areas. (P) Deep scratches require filling. To repair deep scratches, begin by cleaning the area with naphtha and remove any splinters. Use a small art brush or cotton swab to rub stain into the scratch, and allow to dry overnight. Fill the scratch with a colored wood filler or shellac. Wood can also be filled using a shellac or wax stick. Heat the stick and apply the wax or shellac with a palette knife or spatula. Let dry several hours and repeat if necessary. Sand the area smooth with very fine sandpaper, and finish by applying a fresh coat of wax or polish.

Wood is composed of fibers, and a dent is caused when the fibers of wood become compressed. To uncompress the fibers and allow the wood to return to its previous shape, you need to apply moisture. Begin by either removing the finish on the bruised area or pricking holes in it to allow the moisture in. Next, wet the dent with warm water. Soak a thick cloth or a thick layer of folded up brown paper with warm water, and place over the dent. Apply a warm iron to cloth or brown paper to create steam and allow moisture to penetrate into the fibers. Repeat until the wood swells to its original shape. Finish by polishing or waxing the treated area.

Burns can be treated successfully, but the kind of treatment depends on whether the burn is only as deep as the finish, or whether it has penetrated into the wood itself. If the area is only lightly scorched, rub it with a piece of very fine steel wool until the blemish disappears. Polish and wax the affected area. If the burn is deeper and has blistered, clean the area with a knife by carefully scraping the burned area. Rub the spot with fine steel wool. Clean again by scraping and rubbing with steel wool until the spot disappears. Lightly sand, with the grain, with a very fine grade of sandpaper. Size 6/0 or 7/0 should be sufficient. When you have finished cleaning and scraping, the area will need to be filled. This can be done by applying thin coats of varnish or shellac with a small brush, and allowing each coat to dry thoroughly before applying another. You can also fill the indentation by using a colored wax or shellac stick. Apply the filler with a warm blade or knife. Allow to dry, and sand with very fine sandpaper to smooth. Finish by applying polish or wax to damaged area.

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