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Wood Scratch Repair: How to Remove Scratches from Wood Furniture

  • by Joshua Cordray
Wood Scratch Repair: How to Remove Scratches from Wood Furniture
Wood furniture adds warmth and character to any home, but scratches can detract from its beauty. Fortunately, with the right techniques and a few household items, you can easily fix minor blemishes. This guide will walk you through various methods to remove scratches from wood furniture, restoring its natural elegance.

Assessing the Damage

Before attempting any repairs, it's important to assess the depth and severity of the scratches. This will help you choose the most effective repair method.

How deep is the scratch?

Shallow scratches barely break the surface of the wood and really only affect the finish. These are often simple to repair and can be done with no woodworking knowledge. Deeper scratches, where your fingernail won't touch the bottom of the scratch, may require more work.

Is the damage deeper than just wooden surfaces?

If the scrape exposes grain inside the wood, then you're going to want to repair it thoroughly. This is especially true if it is a working surface, like a table or wooden floor. If you don't fix it, it may crack where is has been scratched or get much worse over time.

Let's start with how to prepare the wood for repairs.

Preparing the Surface

A clean surface ensures that your repair efforts are effective and long-lasting. Wipe down the surface with a damp cloth, like a microfiber cloth. This helps get rid of dust and debris but it will also "raise the grain." This means the wood swells up a little and you'll see the grain pattern more clearly.

If the scratch has jagged edges, use some sandpaper to smooth them down before you do anything else. You don't want any jagged edges to ruin your work or give you a splinter.

Methods for Removing Small Scratches

Minor scratches often require simple solutions using household items or minimal purchases from your local hardware store.

Using Olive Oil and Vinegar Mixture

Natural ingredients for light scratches: Mix equal parts olive oil and white vinegar to gently buff away small scratches, restoring the wood's appearance. This is going to be the best option for lighter scratches in darker wood.

All you need to do is mix the oil and vinegar and then rub the mixture into the scratch. It will start working immediately, but the stain will get darker over a few more minutes.

Applying Furniture Polish

For surface-level care: A small amount of furniture polish can hide scratches and revitalize the wood finishes. A coat or two of furniture polish will hide scratches in light wood, like pine or beech, without running the risk of staining any of the good wood.

Walnut Trick


Natural oils to the rescue: Rubbing a walnut over scratches is a natural way to hide them, as the oils help darken and blend the scratch into the rest of the wood. Just split the walnut so you can use the inner part to rub the wood. This is much better for lighter woods. It won't work quite as well on darker woods.

Use wood markers


You can buy a set of wood markers if the other options don't work well enough. Wood markers are especially good for scratches that have broken the surface but aren't quite deep enough to fill with putty or filler.

The best technique is to use the lightest colored marker and then then work to the darker markers in steps. This will ensure the finished color is a match for the the existing wood.

Each method offers a simple yet effective way to deal with minor blemishes, improving the appearance of your wooden furniture without much effort.

Fixing Deeper Scratches

For scratches that are too deep for oils or polishes to fix, more involved methods are needed. You'll want a few simple tools and you might need a trip to the hardware store for some supplies.

Filling with Wax Filler Sticks


Wax filler sticks are a quick and easy solution for small to medium-sized scratches. You can combine multiple layers and colors to get the best match possible. Before starting with the paste wax, give the surface a rub with fine steel wool to ensure it is ready for repairs.


  • Wax filler sticks (in the appropriate color)

  • Plastic putty knife or credit card

  • Soft cloth

  • Lighter (optional)


  1. Clean the scratch: Ensure the scratch is free of any dust or debris.

  2. Soften the wax (optional): If the wax is hard, gently warm it with a lighter flame to make it more pliable.

  3. Rub the wax into the scratch: Press the wax filler stick firmly into the scratch, working it in the direction of the wood grain. Overfill the scratch slightly.

  4. Remove excess wax: Use the putty knife or credit card to scrape away excess wax, leaving the scratch flush with the surface.

  5. Buff the area: Use a soft cloth to buff the repaired area and blend it in with the surrounding wood.

Pro Tips

  • You can blend multiple colors of wax sticks for an even better color match.

  • For deeper scratches, apply the wax in layers, letting each layer harden before applying the next.

  • A hair dryer on low heat can also be used to soften the wax stick.

Wax sticks are a great option for furniture repair where the surface isn't likely to be touched often. For working surfaces, especially floors, you might want a more durable solution.

Wood Filler for Chairs, Floors, and Counters

If your scratch exposes "raw wood" that isn't finished, then a deeper repair with wood filler is a good idea. You will apply a single coating for shallow scratches or multiple coatings for deeper scratches.

Here's how to do it properly:

  1. Sand and clean the inside of the scratch so the filler has plenty of sound wood to stick to.

  2. Mix your filler. Some fillers come already mixed. But they might not match your wood. In that case, get two or three colors and combine them to match your wood grain.

  3. Fill the scratch with filler, leaving a little extra for sanding. Cover the entire scratch and push the filler into it from a few angles so it is completely stuffed.

  4. Once the filler is fully cured, sand it flush with the rest of the wood.

  5. Re-finish the wood in whatever stain, color, or beeswax you need to match everything else.

Wood fillers are far more durable than wax and much easier to work than our next choice.

Use an Epoxy-Based Filler for the Most Durable Repair

Epoxy-based fillers are very strong and can be used to fill deep scratches, gouges, and dents. The only downsides are their longer curing times and how difficult they can be to sand after they cure. But for wooden floors, large cracks, or working surfaces, this is the strongest repair.


  1. Sand and prepare the surface as if you are using a normal filler.

  2. Mix up your epoxy to match your wood. There are two ways to do this. First, you can buy epoxy filler in the sort of color you need. If in doubt, go a little lighter and use a wood marker on the finished repair. Second, use a clear epoxy and a handful of sawdust from your wood. Once it's cured, the color will be an almost exact match.

  3. Completely fill the crack, using different angles to work the epoxy into all the corners. Try not to leave it too 'proud' because sanding epoxy filler is tough work.

  4. Sand it flush once the epoxy cures completely. This will likely be several hours, maybe even overnight.

  5. Re-finish the area to ensure everything matches.

Epoxy can also work like glue, so this is a very strong repair. It should protect the area from any future damage.

Refinishing with Paint or Stain

Restoring the finish: After filling, you may need to refinish the area with matching paint or stain to ensure a seamless repair. If you are staining the wood, use a slightly lighter stain and several coats to get the absolute best match.

These steps will help you tackle deeper scratches, ensuring your wood furniture looks as good as new.


Scratches in wood furniture can be unsightly, but they're not the end of the world. With the right approach, you can remove or hide scratches, from light surface marks to deeper gouges. Remember, regular care and prompt repair of minor damage can keep your wooden furniture looking its best.

If you're struggling to get the best results, contact our team here at Artisan Born. We can offer you a bit of help to make everything look good again.


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