Is there an easy-ish fix for a damaged wood tabletop?
October 7, 2017 6:23 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to fix scratches and the worn away finish on a wood tabletop. Is there a way I can do it myself without taking it to a professional? Details and images inside.

Recently I transported a disassembled wooden table in my car by placing the heavy tabletop face down on a blue U-Haul moving blanket in the back of my hatchback. And then I placed heavy objects on top of the underside of said tabletop. And then I drove like this for several days. Not the wisest plan, and it should come as no surprise that the tabletop now shows some damage. Pictures here. (Ignore the white marks on the sides of the photos - it's just light.)

When I unearthed the tabletop from my car, some of the fibers of the blanket were stuck to the table, some of the finish had worn off from friction, and there were some indentations. It's an old table and I don't need it to look perfect but I'd love to make it look better, especially because when light hits it the marks are even more obvious.

Any suggestions? (e.g., apply some sort of finish to the damaged areas, fill in the indentations with something, sand anything down) ... This post mentions markers and scratch remover - would that work in this case?
posted by mayta to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
You want Howard Restor-A-Finish, followed up with Howard Feed-N-Wax. Great products, you won't believe your eyes.
posted by jgirl at 6:36 PM on October 7 [4 favorites]

I wouldn't use those wood markers- they're great on small areas like edges and legs- where the small, multifaceted shape of the area helps disguise variations in colour. But they tend to look very "markery" on big surfaces like tabletops- it's extremely hard to blend the ink out properly.

If you do try the markers, do small areas at a time & use a wet q-tip to gently feather out the edges of the ink as you go. But really, be careful- it's reeeeally easy to make it look worse.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 6:45 PM on October 7

I've always been happy with Formby's refinisher (i.e., it's not a stripper), followed by Tung or Danish oil.

(I've never used the Howard products mentioned above, i.e., I'm not recommending Formby's over Howard.)
posted by she's not there at 8:47 PM on October 7 [1 favorite]

I found mixing a wee bit of Espresso (for color) with Vinegar and Oil works much much better than professional products.

Weird, I know. Seriously, tho, google around for recipes and try it. I want to add here I have a closet shelf of pro products including a few mentioned above. Vinegar and oil worked better and lasts longer between applications, if re-application (maybe 1x per year) is even necessary.
posted by jbenben at 9:40 PM on October 7 [1 favorite]

It depends on the finish. If the finish is varathane then your actions will be different than if the finish is wax, or oil.

Those white scuffs can often be rubbed off with the right product. Polish your table. Spend a dreamy hour polishing it while perhaps listening to a podcast or something. Even a magic eraser might make a lot of difference.
posted by Jane the Brown at 6:10 AM on October 8

I didn't realize you had pictures! I have a vintage piece like that with similar damage and the oil and vinegar is the only thing that makes the scratches undetectable from most angles.
posted by jbenben at 7:28 AM on October 8

Thanks to all of you for these great ideas! I'm thrilled. The Howard products worked like a charm.
posted by mayta at 6:30 PM on November 8

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