Friday, July 17, 2009

Can My Table Be Saved

YES! End tables, coffee table, desks, and more. They all have something in common. A surface that is just waiting for a scratch, ding, or water stain. A question I often hear is “Can my table be saved?” The good news is “yes” and often the repairs can be done by you.

FinishThe good news is that most tables have a tough finish that minimizes damage. The bad news is that the tougher the finish, the more difficult it is to repair. Urethanes and varnishes create a “plastic” protective film. In many cases repairs in this type of finish call for the entire surface to be stripped and re-applied. Other finishes like shellac or Danish oil can be spot repaired saving time, money, and the patina your furniture has acquired.

Dings and scratches are the worst. The good news is that if the scratch is minimal it can often be hidden with a wax “crayon”, touched up with stain, or filled with a shellac stick, a colored stick that is melted into a defect and sanded smooth. Dings are a little tougher. Repairs depend on the depth of the damage and can frequently be fixed with the use of a “Dutchman”. A Dutchman is a matching wooden plug, set into the surface while matching the grain as closely as possible. This type of repair is often best left to professionals.

Water stains, or those annoying white rings, are not as bad as they look, nor are they difficult to repair - usually. A glass set on a wooden surface is the most common cause. I always start with something simple. Wipe the area with isopropyl alcohol. The alcohol usually draws the moisture from the stain and you’re good as new. If that isn’t enough, the next step is to use some mineral oil, a mild abrasive called pumice and some elbow grease. While these two techniques usually work, there are always those few tough stains. For those it’s back to sanding and refinishing the surface as I mentioned above.

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