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Easy Furniture Repair Tips

repair scratches in wood


You don’t have to live with the scratches and nicks in your vintage furniture anymore because we’ve compiled a list of surprisingly easy, at-home fixes to make your mid-century, um, modern again.


Minor scratches

For light to medium colored wood you can make a paste from the meat of a Walnut or Brazil Nut and rub into the scratch. The oil will darken the scratch to help conceal it and the paste will level off the scratch. Buff with a cloth and that should repair the scratch.

If you have kids, their crayons will come in handy! Find a crayon that matches as closely as possible to the wood you’re repairing. Work the crayon in to fill the scratch, then use a hot dry rag and a blow dryer on high to melt and buff the crayon to a smooth finish. If you can’t find a crayon at home you can pick up a proper furniture patching wax stick at your neighborhood hardware store.

For mahogany or cherry wood, applying Iodine will mask scrapes and scratches. Wipe dry with a cloth after application. Can be applied as many times as needed to match color of wood.



This is a little more of an ambitious repair, but can be done if you’re careful. For wood that has a varnish you’ll need to either remove the finish or prick tiny little holes with a pin in the area to allow moisture into the fibers. Jam a moist cloth in the dent and then cover with a towel so you don’t damage the surrounding areas with the steam you’re going to apply with a very hot iron. The steam will be released into the fibers and they should plump up fill the dent. Lightly sand and touch up the area as needed, then polish and wax or oil depending on the finish of the wood.



If the marks are whitish in colour – that’s a good thing because the water has only affected the varnish and they should be very easy to repair.

Try these varying degrees of fixes. Keep trying until you find the solution that works.

  1. Use a little rubbing (denatured) alcohol on a lint-free cloth and try rubbing the spot out.
  2. Use camphorated oil on a lint-free cloth and try rubbing the spot out.
  3. Use turpentine on a lint-free cloth and try rubbing the spot out.
  4. Using a small amount of toothpaste with “brighteners” will act as a mild abrasive. Rub in with your finger or a small cloth pad. Try to keep the rubbing motion along the direction of the wood grain. The stain should eventually disappear as you rub.
  5. Sprinkling some table salt on the watermark then rubbing with a cloth moistened in mineral or lemon oil should start to take the spot out. Repeat the process using salt and vinegar if you need stronger results.
  6. Buff and polish to finish.

If the water damage is darker in colour that means the moisture has entered into the wood and the whole area will need to be stripped and re-finished. I’d advise getting an expert to do that unless you’re particularly handy or you don’t mind having a strategically placed pile of magazines or an ornament permanently covering the mark.

Candle wax

Scrape as much off as you can, then lightly iron with a piece of paper towel. Change towel regularly so it keeps absorbing the melted wax. Once you’ve removed as much as possible, use some Dryel drycleaning fluid and rub over the area with a cloth to remove the remaining bits of wax.


Worn Leather

Worn or faded leather can be fixed using natural cleaners such as saddle soap or neatsfoot oil. Bear in mind neatsfoot oil will darken natural color leathers.

If your leather has a colored finish to it, you should contact your local auto repair shop to have them match a liquid leather product to your piece. Aniline dyed leather is more difficult to repair because it is translucent and will more readily show repairs. If you’re in doubt contact a local repair shop.


Punctures and Tears in Leather

This is detail work so be prepared. Using a needle, gently lift the flap of the tear, and with the tip of another needle apply a minute amount of contact cement. Carefully smooth out the edges and wipe any excess glue away. Leave for an hour or so then apply some leather conditioner – being careful to not lift up the edges of your recently repaired tears.

The leather conditioner plumps and softens the leather and makes the repair almost invisible. Perfect for the piece of leather furniture the cat has decided to use as a scratching post. Please be aware that we cannot guarantee these tips and you use them at your own risk.


Let us know if you have any other quick and easy furniture repair tips in the comments section below!




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