Fixing dents and dings in solid wood furniture

I’ve been working on my wife’s Christmas (2009) present lately trying to get it finished before I have to start on her 2010 present.  There are bits and pieces of it lying around the shop and I work on it when I get a free moment or two.  Sometime I’m working on a similar part for a paying customer so I’ll make two. 

There other day I was milling some long lumber for the posts of a pencil post bed and the back end of the board knocked a small wooden taper jig off the shaper table behind me.  No big deal I thought…Until I realized that a door for my wife’s present was leaning against the side of the shaper.  I went over to make see if it had been damaged and sure enough there was a large dent on the front edge of the bottom of the door frame next to the panel. 

As you can see from the photo above this was more than just a small ding.  The wood fibers were broken on one end of the dent.  Very ugly and, of course, front and center on the door.  Fortunately there is an easy way to fix something like this.  Even after many years of woodworking I still find this fix amazing. 

I applied some tape around the dent to keep the surrounding areas protected and dabbed a little water on the dent.

Next I took the tip of a hot burn in knife and applied it to the dent.  This steams the wet wood and causes it to expand.

I needed to repeat this process (wet the wood then steam it) several times until the crushed wood had expanded enough to be just about level.

A little sanding after this and the fix was complete.  Unless you know where to look and what you’re looking for you can’t even see it.  All that’s visible is the slight break in the wood where the fibers were broken but otherwise you’d never know. Pretty amazing!

Richard Bissell

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