Furniture Cleaning and Repairs: Stain Removal, Cigarette Burns, etc

Bruises, marks and stains

Most repairs to everyday furniture are within the scope of the handyman. Repairs and repolishing of antiques should be left to an expert.

Removing bruises:

Do this immediately following the damage. Treatment of softwoods is nearly always successful, but harder timbers and older bruises are less easy to deal with.

You will need boiling water, cotton wool, and plenty of cloth.


1. Carefully scrape all traces of polish from the affected area.

2. Make a firm pad of cotton wool and wrap it in a soft, clean cloth, tying the cloth in a knot for use as a handle. Soak the pad in boiling water and apply to the bruise — wipe off water that seeps on to the surrounding surface.

Pour water directly on bruises on a leg and other non-horizontal flat surfaces. Use rags to prevent the boiling water flowing on to and damaging the surrounding finish.

3. Keep the water on the boil throughout — this is most important.

4. Give repeated applications until the bruise has disappeared.

5. Leave for several hours to dry — the grain and wood fibres compressed by the bruising will continue to rise until they have completely dried out.

6. Sand the affected part with fine abrasive paper, colour to match, and polish.

Heat or water marks:

Heat marks show as white rings or patches on French polish and cellulose and lacquer finishes. Water marks show as dark rings or spots. Wine and spirit marks caused by the base of a wet glass are usually rings.

For removing these marks from oil finishes, see Maintenance of Wood Finishes – oil finishes.

On French polished surfaces, remove small stains with a proprietary polish re viver such as Furniglas Renovator No. 3. Heat marks may need harsher treatment.

1. Stand the table on its end.

2. Wipe the marks with a cloth soaked in methylated spirit.

3. Set the methylated spirit alight at the bottom. The heat caused will release the moisture trapped .in the film without destroying the surface.

4. Burnish with wax polish.

If the marks are still visible when these two methods have been used, sand out the marks with fine abrasive paper, but take care not to sand so deep that you damage the wood surface. Remove all dust. Bring the sanded part up to the surrounding level with successive coats of French polish, flowing the final coat into the surrounding surface. Allow to dry thoroughly. Use a fine pumice powder or burnishing cream over the treated area and finish by buffing with a good wax polish.

If the marks are deep, clean right down to the bare wood before repolishing. You may even have to carry out complete stripping and repolishing.

On cellulose and lacquer surfaces, try to move the marks with Brasso. Rub it in well with a soft rag and polish it off before it dries. Then rub the affected part with a very hot cloth and burnish with wax polish.

Heat marks may require burning off with methylated spirit (see above) or sanding out with fine abrasive paper. Build up the finish with a one-pack polyurethane.

If these methods fail to remove the marks, strip back to the bare wood and repolish.

Cigarette burns:

If the burn has affected only the finished surface, treat as for heat and water marks.

If the burn has gone deep enough to damage the veneer, try to remove the blemish by careful scraping; if it has penetrated right through, cut out the affected part of veneer and repair.

If the burn is in solid timber, plane it away, sand and repolish. Alternatively, cut out the affected area to a depth of about 3 mm. (3/8 in.), and replace with a piece of timber matching in grain and colour.

Ink stains:

Mild surface stains can be removed by rubbing with fine steel wool or abrasive paper. Finish with wax polish.

If ink stains have penetrated deeply and stained the timber, carry out the following procedure:

1. Clean off all traces of polish or wax from the area.

2. Bleach the stains with oxalic acid (obtainable from chemists) dissolved in hot water, or with a household bleach. Avoid damaging the surrounding area and apply the bleach to the stain only. Several applications may be necessary.

3. Wash with water and allow to dry.

4. Sand, colour the wood if necessary, and polish.

If bleaching fails to remove the stain and the timber is solid, plane or scrape down below the stain and repolish. If the surface is veneered, sand the stain, taking care not to damage the veneer. Should the stain still remain, colour it over with stain mixed with the base polish. Repolish after treatment.

Deep scratches and scores:

Treat as for bruises, with boiling water. This will raise the grain and may eliminate some of the damage.

If the timber is torn and is solid, carefully plane or scrape out the affected area, or the whole surface if necessary; sand and repolish. Sand out the damage on a veneered surface; if this cannot be done without penetrating the veneer, fill with Brummer stopping in a matching tone, allow to dry, sand flat, and repolish.

29. June 2011 by admin
Categories: Treatments and Finishes, Veneer, Woodworking | Tags: , , | Comments Off on Furniture Cleaning and Repairs: Stain Removal, Cigarette Burns, etc


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: