Treating Burn Marks In Wood
Success of these treatments really depends on how far into the finish or into the wood the burn goes.
If the burn mark is only as deep as the finish, wrap a small piece of very fine steel wool around your finger and gently rub the scorched area. Polish and wax the area.
If the burn mark has blisters in the center, hold a knifeblade at a right angle to the burn and carefully scrape the burned area using side-to-side motions. Once all the burned area is removed, rub a piece of steel wool on the spot until the area is smooth. Brush the dust away to see if any finish remains. If so, polish and wax the area to restore luster.
If you have scraped into the wood, you need to build up the cavity that now exists. Apply thin coats of varnish or shellac with a small artist's brush, allowing each coat to dry before applying the next one. Once the area matches the surrounding surface, rub it carefully with a piece of steel wool dipped into paste wax. Blend the area by rubbing parallel to the wood grain. Polish and wax the area.
Of course, you should read manufacturer's care directions carefully, since finishes can vary widely. Here are some general tips from the experts:
DUST CAREFULLY with a soft cloth, following the grain pattern of the wood. Use an old T-shirt, baby diaper or cheesecloth that has been laundered to remove the sizing.
DUST OFTEN to remove everyday abrasive particles from wood surfaces.
CONSIDER CLEANING with a mild non-alkaline soap and water. Use the suds on a damp sponge or cloth, but be sure to pre-test the solution on an out-of-sight section to make sure it doesn't damage the finish. Dry immediately with a soft cloth and buff lightly, following the grain.
CONSIDER WAXING if recommended by the furniture's manufacturer. Remove old wax first with a mild non-alkaline soap and water solution.
DON'T WAX urethane-finished furniture, but find out what is recommended for this type of furniture finish.
A dent occurs because the fibers of dented wood have been greatly compressed. Many times you can fix the dent by restoring the fibers to their normal size.
Either remove the finish over the dented area or prick holes in the area with a pin or a tack to allow moisture into the fibers.
Place a wet cloth over the dent with a metal cap on top of the cloth. The cap helps prevent damage to the surrounding areas.
Apply heat from an iron by placing the iron on top of the cap, which will heat up the cap, in turn warming the cloth, which will then release steam into the wood fibers. The wood should swell into its previous shape.
Fill in or touch up with varnish or shellac as needed. Polish and wax the area.
Note: This technique may cause watermarks from the steam. Simply treat them using the techniques listed under watermarks below.
Today's finishes demand special attention, often from professional refinishers, when it comes to stain removal. Some common stains can be treated with do-it-yourself furniture first aid. But always test the remedy on a small area first to be sure it won't damage the finish.
WATER MARKS, RINGS. Rings are often in the wax, not the finish. Cover the stain with a clean, thick blotter, press down with a warm iron, and repeat. Or try rubbing with salad oil, mayonnaise or white toothpaste. Then wipe dry.
WHITE MARKS. Rub with a cloth dipped in a mixture of cigarette ashes and lemon juice or salad oil. Or rub with a cloth dipped in lighter fluid, followed by a mixture of rottenstone and salad oil. Wipe dry.
MILK OR ALCOHOL. Use your fingers to rub liquid or paste wax into the stain. Or rub in a paste of boiled linseed oil and rottenstone with the grain, substituting pumice for dull finishes. Or rub with ammonia on a dampened cloth. Then wipe dry.
STICKING PAPER. Dampen the paper thoroughly with salad oil, wait five minutes and rub along the grain with extra-fine (0000) steel wool. Wipe dry.
CIGARETTE BURNS. Minor burns can be remedied by rubbing with scratch-concealing polish or with a paste of linseed oil and rottenstone, working with the grain until the burn mark disappears.
HEAT MARKS. Rub gently along the grain using a dry steel wool soap pad, extra-fine (0000) steel wool, or a cloth dampened with camphorated oil or mineral spirits. Wipe clean.
NAIL POLISH. Blot the spill immediately, then rub with fine steel wool (0) dipped in wax. Wipe dry.
PAINT MARKS. If fresh, remove latex paint with water and oil-based paint with mineral spirits. If dry, soak spot in boiled linseed oil, wait until paint softens, then lift carefully with a putty knife or wipe with cloth dampened in boiled linseed oil. Residue can be removed by rubbing along the grain with a paste of boiled linseed oil and rottenstone. Wipe dry and wax or polish.
WAX OR GUM. Harden the substance by holding an ice cube wrapped in cloth against it. Pry off with a fingernail or credit card. Rub the area with extra-fine (0000) steel wool dipped in mineral spirits. Wipe dry.
Solid hardwood furniture is authentic and durable. Its one-of-a-kind beauty can last a lifetime and beyond to become tomorrow's heirloom.
Here are some tips for caring for these future antiques:
Position furniture out of direct sunlight, or adjust curtains during mid-day hours. Avoid placement directly in front of radiators, heat runs or fireplaces. Like you, hardwood furniture is most comfortable in relative humidity of at least 25 to 35 percent. That means using a humidifier in winter and an air conditioner in summer.
Use coasters with non-scratching bottoms. Use padding under heavy or sharp objects, or when setting down something hot or cold.
Store table leaves as close as possible to the table. Keep them in an upstairs closet rather than a damp basement so that table and leaves are adjusting to the same humidity conditions.
Keep solvents such as nail polish remover and alcohol away from wood furniture. Read manufacturers' tags and literature.
Ask your retailer for specific advice on maintaining a piece's finish. Ask about manufacturer-provided finishes that resist potential damage from solvents, liquids and hot objects.
Warning: Before attempting to repair small nicks or scratches, always test the treatment on an inconspicuous area of the furniture to make sure it will not damage the finish.
DARK WOOD OR STAIN. Fill scratches with shoe polish that matches the lightest shade of the finish or rub with walnut or Brazil nut meat in the direction of the scratch. A crayon or felt-tipped marker can also be effective.
CHERRY. Fill scratches with cordovan or reddish shoe polish that matches the wood or apply darkened iodine with a cotton swab or thin artist's brush.
LIGHT WOOD OR STAIN. Fill scratches with a tan or natural shoe polish or apply darkened iodine diluted 50 percent with denatured alcohol.
As long as the marks are white or whitish in color, there is a very good chance you can repair the water damage without refinishing. (If the spots or rings turn a dark color, the water has seeped through the finish and into the wood and the damage can be repaired only by refinishing.
Try the following treatments for white watermarks. Start with the first--and mildest--treatment, moving on to the more involved treatments only if the preceding does not work.
Moisten a rag with denatured alcohol and try rubbing the spot out.
Moisten a rag with camphorated oil and try rubbing the spot out.
Moisten a rag with turpentine and try rubbing the spot out.
Put a small amount of toothpaste with "extra brighteners" (actually a mild abrasive) on the spot and rub in with your finger or a small cloth pad. Try to keep the rubbing motion parallel to the grain of the wood. The stain should lighten as you rub, eventually disappearing.
Sprinkle table salt on the spot. Dip cloth into mineral oil or lemon oil and rub the salt into the spot. If this starts to take the spot out, repeat the process using salt and vinegar (which acts a mild bleach).
Mix rottenstone with lemon oil or mineral oil to make a paste. Rub into the spot. It may take a lot of elbow grease to get the spot out. Note: This treatment will dull the surface of your wood, but you can easily fix it by waxing or polishing the area. If that doesn't restore the dull area, in some cases you may need to apply a light coat of shellac or varnish, but this is not recommended as it is difficult to blend a touchup.