How to Fix Damaged Surfaces of Wood Furniture

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How to Fix Damaged Surfaces of Wood Furniture - marking pen use in other areasWood is lovely, but at times it does not age well, or exposure makes the veneer or varnish suffer needlessly.

This guide can help you revive that nice dresser or nightstand, not so that it regains its monetary value as much as that it still looks attractive in your home.


Total Time: 30 minutes to one hour


How to Fix Damaged Surfaces of Wood Furniture - small chest of drawers with bottle of oil soap, furniture pen, and rag on top

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  1. It is always a good idea to clean your furniture thoroughly with Murphy's Oil Soap before you begin. You can either buy the spray version, or dilute it one part to 3 parts water on a rag, then rub it on the wood.
  2. How to Fix Damaged Surfaces of Wood Furniture - pouring on oil soap

  3. Look for the marker that most complements your piece of furniture. Then, after your furniture has dried from the washing, simply draw on your wood! This can be a fun step for children to finish. It can also be helpful during this step to rub in the ink with a rag each time you draw on your piece of wood. It can also be helpful to draw over the same area multiple times.
  4. How to Fix Damaged Surfaces of Wood Furniture - covering damaged spots with marking pen
    How to Fix Damaged Surfaces of Wood Furniture - rubbing furniture marking pen color into wood
  5. Let it dry for a while. I would say, wait at least 5 minutes, because you don't want the ink to rub off in your next step.
  6. After the marker is all dry, then take equal parts olive oil and vinegar, shake them up really well in a jar, and rub it on the wood with a terry robe or other porous cloth.
  7. How to Fix Damaged Surfaces of Wood Furniture
    How to Fix Damaged Surfaces of Wood Furniture - cleaning surface with oil soap and cloth

  8. As you can see, it looks great! As good as new, when viewed in a certain light. As you can see in my photos, this really nice and pricey nightstand was worthless before the treatment. But now, unless you look at it up close, it looks as good as new. I also tried this treatment with 3 other nightstands and a rolling cart on this particular day, and the results were impressive each time.
  9. How to Fix Damaged Surfaces of Wood Furniture

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March 26, 20174 found this helpful

thanks for this tutorial! i have some of those markers but was uncertain how they were used. it certainly looks like they make the furniture look MUCH better!

Reply Was this helpful? 4
November 10, 20220 found this helpful

I did exactly what you did with the exception of the vinegar solution, this was many years ago when we had kids staying with us and they spilled liquid, I was unaware until I removed the dresser scarf that was on the top. It still looks great. Glad you can pass on your tips to someone else.

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August 30, 20200 found this helpful

How long does it last b4 you have to do it again?

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September 20, 20210 found this helpful

awesome! you can use varish as well to have the wood last longer. its like coating!

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September 20, 20210 found this helpful

awesome! you can add varnish like a coating for extra wood strength!

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December 14, 20210 found this helpful

I recently purchased a lovely antique wood dining table and used the oil and vinegar on it. I was pleasantly surprised to see how nice it turned out!


I won't be refinishing it for awhile now.

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December 16, 20211 found this helpful

Is there a vinegar smell and does it last long?

Reply Was this helpful? 1
January 16, 20225 found this helpful

This is yet another example of someone giving out wrong information about "restoring" furniture. Used motor oil has a beautiful golden brown color, it does not mean you should rub it all over your furniture, either.OLIVE OIL, COCONUT OIL, SAFFLOWER OIL,MINERAL OIL, ANY NON DRYING OILS, DO NOT BELONG ON FURNITURE. If you rub oil into wood you are CONTAMINATING IT and rendering it unsuitable for actual, proven, proper restoration techniques developed over hundreds of years by people who actually know what they're doing!


Sure it'll probably look better for a little while, but it will not last and provides ZERO protection for the wood. Olive oil has fat in it, that can go rancid, grow mold, get sticky and attract dust, dirt, and even mice, rats and other vermin.Vinegar is Acetic acid, and will attack many finishes, softening them and causing more damage than it can "repair" I am a furniture restorer of 40+ years, and am so tired of fighting this misinformation all around the web

Reply Was this helpful? 5
February 2, 20223 found this helpful

So can you tell us what you do use? That would be helpful. Ive used beeswax before on a Victorian dressing table. Ive used a Matt Varnish on a beautiful walnut desktop. Super pleased with both projects. Would love you to edify us.

Reply Was this helpful? 3
March 24, 20221 found this helpful

That is quite true being in restoration for 50+ years there are natural products that work and do not have excess oil that continue to weep from wood. Letting it dry in warm temps and sun is helpful too.

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April 10, 20220 found this helpful

Maybe you shouldnt fight the misinformation then and people will do what they do and in time they will hopefully learn by trial and error.

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May 29, 20220 found this helpful

If this were mine, I would just sand down the top finishing with 220 girt. Then minwax wood conditioner and then stain it with a stain color close to original. Then 2 coats poly.

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June 5, 20220 found this helpful

It's Cherry, which responds to refinishing very well, but it should be stripped, not sanded. Stripping this top would take less than 10 minutes, then after drying it should be sanded lightly with 120-220 grit paper..


Also, there is no reason to use Minwax wood conditioner, and in fact it will prevent the stain from absorbing properly...Cherry is not a "problem wood" and stains and refinishes beautifully.

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November 6, 20221 found this helpful

The top need to be stripped and refinished with a stain that closely matches the rest of the piece, then finished with 2 coats of polyurethane. There are no shortcuts to fixing problems like this.

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January 30, 20220 found this helpful

AMAZING! Gonna try it!!!

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August 16, 20221 found this helpful

Thanks for this information. I have purchased the pens about 4 months ago, they are still standing in a box in my living room, awaiting me to repair my coffee table. I also purchased Scratch cover for medium wood, which is purchased from Wilko in UK, instead of olive oil and vinegar.
I am now ready to go.
Will they work on vinyl kitchen flooring which has become due to unfortunate bangs over the years?
I guess there is no harm in trying, it can only improve, not do further damage?

Reply Was this helpful? 1
October 8, 20220 found this helpful

Thank you for sharing this with us. I'm going to try it on my coffee table!

Reply Was this helpful? Yes

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