A pink cloth next to scratches on a wood table

Home Remedies to Fix Scratches on Wood Furniture

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If you’ve got kids and pets like I do, you’ve probably found yourself staring at scratches on your wood furniture or gouges on the tables.

I’ve got some good news: most the time, you can fix scratches on wood with things you’ve already got in the house. That’s right: no tools required.

Color Typing

Most of these methods to fix wood scratches are designed to match the color or tone of your wood, so that’s important to know.

Light wood is natural in appearance, and has a visible grain. Think: pine, ash, birch, maple.

Dark wood is, well, darker. But it has a smoother grain. Examples are walnut, cherry, mahogany and ebony.

Oak and teak are sometimes dark, sometimes light. When you’re repairing scratches on these woods, match the treatment to the color of the finish.

Fixing Minor Scratches in Light Wood

Before you start, clean the area well with a microfiber cloth and warm soapy water to remove waxy buildup then rinse and buff it dry.

Now, you’re ready to cover scratches on the wood surface with one of these methods.

Using a nut

Rub a nut (or the nut oil) hard on the scratch, like you’re trying to erase it from the wood. Because you are.

Then firmly press your finger flat over the area to help the nut oil soak into the wood. Repeat the process repeat until you can’t see the scratch anymore.

• For one or two scratches on light wood, match an unsalted and unflavored nut to the color of the wood. Pecans and peanuts work well.

• For large areas like a heavily worn tabletop, use the oil and contents of a jar of all-natural peanut or almond butter—the kind you have to stir together. Mix it well and spread it on with a soft cloth.

Using oil and vinegar

Shake or whisk 1 part white vinegar and 2 parts olive oil until they’re completely mixed, then dab this onto the scratch with a cotton swab.

Seal it by pressing your finger flat on the spot for a minute and repeat until the scratch is gone. Use balsamic for medium wood.

Did You Know?

The vinegar’s acid helps raise the wood fibers so the oil can correct the color.

Fixing Minor Scratches in Dark Wood

For this method, you’re going to rub a heavy layer of a coloring agent into the wood using a cotton swab or paintbrush. Try not to get it on the wood around the scratch though.

Let it soak in for an hour then wipe the spot with a soft rag. Repeat until you’re happy with the result.

Some coloring agents to try:

  • Mahogany or cherry wood: use iodine or shoe polish.
  • Acacia: damp coffee grounds.
  • Medium-colored wood: use strong black tea. The darker the wood, the stronger the tea.
  • Ebony wood: use a paste of water and fireplace or wood ash.

Fixing Deep Scratches on Wood Furniture

If you can feel the scratch, you can color the exposed wood and fill the gouge with a crayon or a blendable scratch filler stick.

Rub it firmly into the scratch then remove any excess with the edge of a credit card. Seal it by pressing your finger on the spot for a full minute.

Fixing Dents or Gouges on Wood Furniture

Gouges can sometimes be “plumped” back up by adding moisture to the area. So, grab your iron and a towel because we’re going to fix that gouge with steam.

  1. Put a lightly damp towel over the gouge.
  2. Run your iron around in circles for 30 seconds using high heat.
  3. Lift the towel and check your progress.
  4. Repeat if needed, using a fresh damp spot each time.
  5. Wait 24 hours for the wood to dry then rub the area with olive oil to remove any water or haze on the wood from the steam if needed.

There you go, a quick and easy way to get scratches out of your wood furniture with things you’ve got around the house.

Speaking of which, head to your kitchen to whip up some of my natural furniture polish to make that wood furniture shine!

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  1. Greg Winner says:

    Have you had any luck removing scratches from thin veneer timber doors

    1. Katie Berry says:

      With veneer, you can either fill the scratch with a matching Crayon or wax furniture stick, or go through the process of lightly sanding the surrounding area to level it out, then restain. Use a fine grit and sand by hand, because once you wear through that veneer there’s no going back.

  2. Hedda Szczepanski says:

    Fantastic advice- just what I needed! I have been putting this off.
    Thank you

    1. Katie Berry says:

      You’re very welcome. No need to put it off now!

  3. The crayon tip worked for me (after failing with commercial products).
    Thanks SO much!!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Barbara! I’m so glad to have helped. Enjoy!

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