General Question

Yellowdog's avatar

What is best to be used to repair or rub out scratches in the finish of a nice, solid-oak coffee table ?

Asked by Yellowdog (10820points) February 9th, 2017

My grandmother bought a few nice things from the late 1950s to early 1970s, and this is part of at least a two-part set with marble insets. Even though the original finish is in good shape, the wood has gotten scratched in the last move about 18 years ago. I guess I assumed I would just get it repaired later as the move was rather hasty. Getting it in and out of storage did damage.

Not terrible damage—just the kind of damage that made this once very nice furniture look like, well, junk out of someone’s attic—cheap and slightly insulting to be offered.

I hate to refinish because the finish is otherwise in good shape (very clean and nice with just a slight patina from 50 years of use)
and I doubt I could do this good a job.

It seems like at one time you could just rub out scratches such as these. But those may have been cheaper finishes or woods. But I admit I don’t know much about repair and refinishing of furniture.

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6 Answers

jca's avatar

Is it stained oak or natural color?

There are magic markers you can buy that are wood colored. They might be in a store like Walmart in the hardware section or in Home Depot. You can buy one similar to the color of your furniture and give it a swipe.

If the furniture is stained brown, a trick you can use is take some instant coffee, mix some of the dry grinds (unused grinds) with some hot water so it’s like condensed, and then brush it on the scratches and see how that works.

Last but not least is getting the furniture professionally refinished. I’ve had a few pieces done and so has my mom, and you’d be thrilled to pieces when you see what your furniture looks like after it’s redone by a pro. If the furniture is flat and plain (without carvings) you can try it yourself. Check out videos and read on up techniques. However, if there are carvings in it, it’s best to get it done by a pro.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

The poor man’s refinish is simply to get some wood stain of the same color and fill in the scratches. Start a shade lighter than you think.

I love doing refinishes/repairs. Finding old abused pieces and bringing them back to life is fun.

CWOTUS's avatar

I’ve heard that ground walnut shells rubbed over a scratched wood finish can help to restore its look. I’ve never confirmed that for myself, but I may have seen a video that looked pretty convincing.

In fact, that might be the best place to start with this. Do a YouTube search for “simple fixes to restore wood finish”, because a lot is going to depend on the depth of the scratch, the particular finish applied, etc. Seeing videos might give you ideas that you hadn’t thought of.

I would also recommend that before trying anything exotic or irrevocable, that you attempt to duplicate the fix on a non-obvious part of the furniture, such as a side that’s normally turned to a wall, or a lower support with the same finish, etc.

Seek's avatar

Are the scratches in the finish, or in the wood? Do you know what kind of finish it is (lacquer, varnish, polyurethane, beeswax…)? Pictures would be helpful.

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