Antiques - Repairing the finish

Some pieces of old furniture show the signs of their life in the finish. Scratches, dents, stains etc. This can contribute to its beauty and one might find it acceptable. It can of course be, that someone will drop their keys on a polished surface and leave a scratch or make a mark that can be irritating to the eye and that will need to be camouflaged. Maybe a wineglass that leaves a white ring. All these things can be dealt with.

Below, are some useful methods of dealing with these problems.

Disguising Scratches

If a scratch doesn't damage the wood below the surface then it is possible to disguise it with a propriety liquid retoucher. First try burnishing out the scratch or fill it flush with wax or shellac. It may not be invisible but the damage will be less obvious.


Coloured, liquid wax retoucher will not eliminate scratches but will often hide them. Apply liberally to the scratch and leave after removing any excess. Finally buff off using fine steel wool, grade 0000 or burnishing creme

Hairline scratches can usually be concealed, by using a finish reviver rubbed over the offending scratch.

TIP. Rub an end, of a half of a fresh Brazil nut over a fine scratch to conceal it.

Wax Sticks

Small wood coloured wax sticks are ideal for hiding deep scratches. Rub the edge of the sticks across the scratch until it fills up. Try warming it first to soften. Scrape off any surplus using a flat piece of wood or plastic, to level off and then buff up with a clean cloth.

Filling with French Polish or Varnish

Using a small artists brush charge it with the French Polish or varnish, then trickle it into the scratch until it fills. Leave until dry. Repeat if necessary, until level with the surface. When completely dry, use a sharp knife and carefully scrape flat until level. Smooth it out with fine steel wool and coat with finishing oil, to finish off.

Removing White Rings

Usually these marks don't go too deep and can be removed by using a mild burnishing crème or ring remover, rubbed in circles over the marks. Finally build up the surface again with wax polish.

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