Fixing Cracks in Wood: Furniture & Doors

It is happens in a second. You are redecorating or moving and as you are hauling around a heavy piece of furniture you hit the door with a sharp edge. The door is grooved or scraped and the wood surface marred. Whether the damage is extensive or minor, you will always know of this imperfection. However, this doesn’t mean you need to replace the door or endure the flaw. You can easily fix a scratched wood surface using one of two methods.

Step 1: Asses the Damage

First, assess the damage. If it is small and in an indiscernible area, you can probably patch it up with a little colored wood filler. Go to the hardware store and see if they have wood filler that is tinted to match your door. It helps to know the type of stain on your door but you can also bring home color samples from the store, or contact the manufacturer. If the color is basic, it should be easy to find.

Step 2: Prepare Wood Filler

Prepare the wood filler according to the package instructions. Some need to be stirred; others are ready straight out of the container. Scoop up some filler on a putty knife and work it into the back of the scratch. Layer the filler if necessary, to ensure the filler reaches the very back. When the scratch is filled, run the blade across the surface so the filler is flush to the door. Allow the filler to dry. Then lightly sand the patch’s surface with 220-grit sandpaper so it blends into the door. Dust with a tack cloth and you are done.

If All Else Fails, Refinish the Door…

If the scratch is deep or long, remove the door from the hinges. You’re going to need to refinish the whole door. Lay the door on two sawhorses and remove any hardware. Sand the entire door with 100-grit sandpaper, then wash it with trisodium phosphate (TSP). Rinse off the cleaner and dry the door carefully.

Apply wood filler into the crack as you would with the tinted filler. You don’t need tinted filler here. Instead, the filler needs to be stainable. Fill the crack using a putty knife and let it dry. Sand around the patch with 100-grit sandpaper and then dust the area with a tack cloth.

Stain the entire door using your stain of choice and a rag. Wear gloves and rub the stain into the wood working with the wood’s grain. Allow it to sit on the surface for 10 minutes and then wipe off. Follow the directions of your particular stain. You can apply a second coat to get a darker color.

At this point, you are finished once the stain is dried. However, you can apply a polyurethane topcoat to the door for added protection. Use a rag to apply the topcoat and rub on three or four coats. Allow the topcoat to cure for 12 hours before putting the hardware back on the door and rehanging it.

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