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Furniture Restoration - How to Fill in Gouges and Deep Scratches with a Burn-in Knife

By Edited Nov 7, 2016 0 1

Wood furniture is prone to deep scratches and gouges from kids playing, dropping a heavy object on the furniture’s surface or maybe even crashing into a table or chair leg with a vacuum. For many homeowners furniture is an investment and simply replacing a damaged bed, table, dresser, chair or what have you is not an option. The only options are live with the damage or fix it. Repairing the gouge or deep scratch restores the visual appeal to not only the furniture, but the entire room. Living with the damage is a reminder of a clumsy act or accident that very often you just don’t want to be reminded of.

Do it yourself furniture repairers have a few options when it comes to filling in deep gouges, nicks and scratches. Some repair methods will show even after you are finished fixing it, while others will blend seamlessly into the existing finish and remain hidden. Blending a repair into an existing finish making it so well hidden that even you forget it was ever there is typically the goal when repairs are undertaken. Do it yourselfers can fill in the damage with wood repair putty, an epoxy based repair paste or use a burn-in knife.

In most cases a burn-in knife offers the seamless results most homeowners are looking for. Burn-in knives are easy to use with a little bit of practice and generate much less of a mess than other repair techniques. Never heard of a burn-in knife? -- a burn-in knife is an electrical furniture repair tool that melts shellac, wax or lacquer sticks to form a patch that flows flawlessly with the lines, color and finish of the furniture. If you are a handy do it yourselfer, a person who loves crafts or a quick learner, you will find using a burn-in knife to be one of the easiest and most effortless way to repair furniture you’ve ever tried.

Preparing Deep Gouges, Scratches and Nicks for Filling

Set the piece so the damaged area faces up. For example if your are repairing a bed or chair leg, turn the piece on its side.

 Pick out loose, splintered wood by hand or with needle nose pliers.

Cut away ragged edges of the gouge or scratch with a straight edge razor blade.

Wipe the area with a cloth to pick up loose bits of wood and splinters.

 Do not sand the damage. Sanding a deep scratch or gouge in wood furniture to make the damages smooth will cause a divot in the furniture. Whenever you sand a wood surface, the sandpaper is stripping away layers of wood. Not only will you create an uneven surface, but you will also create an area that is lighter than the rest of the finish because as you are stripping away layers of wood, you are stripping layers of stain.

Buying What You Will Need

Buy an electrical burn-in knife.

Match shellac, lacquer or wax sticks, specially made for burn-in repairs and filling, to the existing furniture color.

Using the Burn-in Knife

A burn-in knife has an attached electrical plug. Put the plug into an electrical outlet that is nearest to the piece of furniture you are repairing. Let the knife heat up for approximately five minutes.

Hold the lacquer, shellac or wax stick with one hand over the deep gouge or scratch on the wood surface. Make sure the stick is about a ½ to 1 inch over the damage.

Touch the hot burn-in knife to the stick and hold it in place as the wax, shellac or lacquer melts. Some burn-in knives have a curved, spoon-like tip that holds the liquefied wax, shellac or lacquer.

Let the liquid wood filler pour into the deep gouge or scratch little by little. Use the hot tip of the burn-in knife to spread and even out the wax, shellac or lacquer along the base of the damage. Lightly press the liquid down into the wood fibers to ensure good adhesion.

Keep melting the stick, lightly pressing the melted material down and spreading it over the damaged area until the wax, lacquer or shellac sits slightly above the surface of the furniture.

Let the hot wax, shellac or lacquer cool, harden and set for 45 to 60 minutes.

Finishing the Deep Gouge or Scratch Repair

 Wrap a piece of 600-grit sandpaper around a hard rubber sanding block.

Drip eight to 10 drops of mineral spirits onto the sandpaper.

Gently rub the wet sandpaper over the filled in repair until it becomes even with the rest of the furniture surface.

Wipe the area with a tack rag to remove the excess sanding dust.

Match wood stain to the darkest color of the wood grain on the furniture.

Pour a small amount of wood stain into a disposable cup.

Dip a thin artist’s paintbrush into the wood stain and knock off the excess stain on the side of the cup.

Align the bristles of the paintbrush with the wood grain.

Drag the paintbrush over the repair to recreate the grain of the wood.

Let the wood stain dry for two to three hours before using the surface of the furniture.

Protecting the Repaired Furniture Surface

After filling the deep gouge or scratch and painting on new wood grain, you will have to protect the surface, especially the faux wood grain.

Wipe the entire surface of the furniture with a microfiber cloth to remove dust.

Run a well worn soft rag through paste furniture wax.

Apply a coat of the paste wax to the furniture covering not only the repair but the entire surface.

Let the paste wax dry and form a white, hazy finish over the wood.

Buff the white haze away with a microfiber cloth until the finish takes on a shine.

Paste furniture wax forms a protective seal over the wood surface to help shield it from water, or light surface scratches and wear through use.

Apply paste wax to the surface of your furniture every few weeks to keep a layer of protection over the finish.

 

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Comments

Feb 8, 2012 5:44pm
cdbrown16
I have never heard of a burn-in knife before. I have some gouges that need repaired and I am going to give this technique a try. Great article!
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