How to Repair Oak Furniture

Easy Repair Tips for Your Oak Furniture


You Don’t Need to Be a Skilled Craftsman to Make Repairs

You’ve just purchased oak furniture to decorate your dream home. Or, you’ve made the oak bookcases you always wanted to and can finally admire them, prominently displayed in your library, office or great room. But what happens if you need to have it repaired? Lugging out a heavy bookcase or desk for repairs isn’t exactly the most convenient thing to do. However, the corner on that case does need to be fixed to avoid further damage to your keepsake. You become intimidated because while you have dabbled in woodworking projects, you’re far from a seasoned carpenter and builder of fine quality furniture. What is the best way to repair oak furniture?

It’s a bad day when the family dog decides to practise his digging skills on the solid oak extending dining table; knocking over a vase full of water in the process. It’s an even worse day when the television deliverymen dent the bookcase in their haste and when several young guests at a 3 year old’s birthday party decide to scribble on as much high quality solid oak furniture as they can find. That’s not to mention the undiscovered wine stains on the coffee table! Unfortunate, yes. Irritating, yes. Disastrous? No, you’ll be surprised to hear.

While solid oak furniture – or any hardwood product for that matter – is by its very nature strong and robust, it is by no means immune from the odd accident – and, as we all know, accidents do happen. However, hardwood furniture is designed and crafted to a very high standard and this repairing hardwood furniture is not a difficult task.

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Less Labor Intensive than You Think

Surprisingly enough, repairing oak furniture is not the labor intensive, time consuming chore you may think. With some expertise and a couple of basic supplies, combined with patience and time, you’ll find that repairing your furniture and restoring it to its original pristine condition is easier than you could imagine. First and foremost, before you begin to make any repairs, make sure you take out the manufacturer’s manual for any warranties and or “how to” sections. Once you’ve done that and have decided this is a project you can handle on your own, everything you need to repair the furniture, from hard wax to protective eye ware to proper tools can all be purchased from eBay at extremely affordable prices.

Safety First

As with everything, safety must come first. When you decide you’re going to repair your own oak furniture, you must make certain you have all the required safety equipment so as not to cause harm either to yourself, anyone else who may be helping you or observing the process, and so you don’t make the repair any worse than it already is. Some basic supplies include disposable gloves, safety goggles, and if you will be sanding or using chemicals, it is suggested you use a duct mask to prevent inhaling toxic fumes caused by the chemical ingredients found in the stain as well as preventing you from inhaling any debris particles.

Time Eventually Takes Its Toll

While Oak furniture is one of the strongest and most durable woods, as with anything else, when it gets constant use in your home it eventually will require repairs. Some of the most common problems are listed below and how to repair them:

On unfinished oak furniture, place a wet rag directly onto the dent. Heat up an iron to maximum heat with the steam function turned on. Place the hot iron on top of the rag and move the iron in small circular motions. Avoid letting the iron sit in one place to ensure the wood does not scorch or burn. When the dent fades, remove the iron and wet rag. This process utilizes the natural absorption and expansion properties of oak. The wood fibers absorb the water vapor and expand in response, reducing or entirely removing the dent. Steam on finished wood can cause water damage and unsightly white stains or even a bubbled surface. Therefore, sand away the finish on and around the dent before applying steam.

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Dent Repair on Unfinished Oak Furniture

When you have a piece of unfinished oak furniture with a dent, put a wet towel or rag directly onto the dent’s surface. Use an iron and heat it to maximum level and turn on the steam setting. Place the iron on top of the rag and then begin to move the iron in tiny circular motions allowing the dent to fade. Do not let the iron sit on top of the dent or on any other part of the furniture, as it will scorch or burn. Once the dent has faded, you can remove the iron and rag. Doing this allows the wood fibers to absorb the water vapor and expands them, causing the dent to disappear.

Water Damage Repair

As we’ve all experienced when we put our glass down on the coffee table without a coaster, liquid causes white rings. First, immediately dry the area thoroughly and then apply your normal household furniture polish. This should take care of minor water damage. If the damage is more substantial or if black spots appear in addition to the white rings, you will most likely have to strip and sand the finish to remove all the damage caused by the liquid. Once you successfully remove the finish, you must bleach the wood, dry it out, and then apply the finish that matches the furniture and buff it out with wax or polish.

When a piece of wood furniture has been soaked in water, the very first thing to do is to let it dry. Place it in a room with warm temperature and good air circulation. You may want to turn on the heating and the fans. Alternatively, if the weather permits, you can leave the furniture to dry outside. Make sure the temperature is right. If it is too cold, the wood piece will dry too slowly and mold will form. If it is too hot, cracks will form in the furniture.


When you use your oak furniture every day, wear and tear is unavoidable. As a result, accidental scratches and scrapes can occur. Very shallow surface scratches can be easily repaired by using half of a walnut or Brazil nut. Simply rub the interior of the nut over the scratched surface. The oil in the nut will darken and reduce the appearance of the scratch. Finish with an application of furniture polish. Deeper scratches will require more intense repair. A wax furniture patching stick is excellent for deeper scratch repair. The wax fills the scratch and smooth out the surface as discussed on our . Then, remove excess surface wax by using a palette knife, use a hard paste wax to buff to a smooth sheen.

To cover scratches on wood furniture, rub a matching color crayon into the scratch and smooth with the fingers. Heat and oil from your finger will blend in the crayon. Alternatively, cover with petroleum jelly overnight. Rub in well, remove excess and buff.

To fix light scratches or blemishes on walnut, rub the scratch with a piece of walnut or pecan meat, then wax with the product you normally use.

For mahogany, rub the scratch with a dark brown crayon or a brown commercial wax product, then buff with your fingers, then a cloth.

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To hide small scratches quickly, break the meat of a walnut, pecan, or Brazil nut and rub it along the scratch. The oil in the nut meat will darken the raw scratch.

Where many shallow scratches are present, apply hard paste wax to the surface with No. 0000 steel wool, stroking very lightly along the grain of the wood. Then buff the surface with a soft cloth. For shallow scratches on an otherwise sound shellac or lacquer finish, reamalgamation can be used to restore the finish. More –

With a little knowledge, elbow grease, time and patience, you’ll keep your oak keepsakes in mint condition for years to come.