The easy way to fix dings in your unfinished furniture project

Every woodworker strives to produce the perfect project. We want our joints to be tight, our measurements dead-on and our cuts clean and crisp.

But no matter how careful we are, wood parts will inevitably suffer an accidental ding or dent during the building process. It simply comes with the territory.

In a constant state of flux from one work area to another, it is not uncommon for parts to bang into each other. Stacks of parts get shoved across the work table or moved from place to place in order to make room for more. Or worse yet, pieces have a tendency to arbitrarily jump out of my hand. No, it won’t fall flat on the floor. That would be asking too much. It’s got to bounce off of something on the way down. Arg!

For the majority of weekend woodworking warriors, pine is the choice wood for most projects. It’s inexpensive, versatile, readily available…but is also has a reputation for being easily damaged.

However, in most cases, there is a simple way to repair the unsightly blemish on your labor of love to the point that it’s practically non-existent. Or in my case, taking the ding out of my dingbat move.

Here’s how:
In the photos below, I used a hammer to re-create the two most common blemishes that occur when working with pine, a dent and a damaged edge. Both repairs are addressed in the same manner. (Click on any image in this blog for a larger view.)

Step 1:
Place several drops of water on and around the flaw, allowing the water to soak into the pores and fibers of the wood until it is fully saturated. Continue to slowly add water until it puddles on the surface. Re-wet the area every 10-15 minutes for the first hour. Soft woods such as pine, fir and cedar are porous and absorb water quickly. Denser hardwoods such as oak, poplar, walnut and cherry absorb water more slowing.

Step 2:
Allow the piece to sit for a few hours. In my case, I left if overnight. Nearly all wood naturally expands when wet, causing it to  return to it’s original or natural state (at least very close).  The flaws should be completely gone!

Step 3:
With the surface back to its original shape, allow it to fully dry, then follow up with  light sanding to blend the repaired area with the surrounding undamaged area. Below, I left a little bit of the pencil line showing, just so you could see where the damage was.


1 Comment on "The easy way to fix dings in your unfinished furniture project"

  1. Great post.
    I would add that I also use an electric seaming iron in conjunction with the water to swell the “ding”. Cover the spot with a damp rag. Apply to heat. NO DING!

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