Small, shallow dents in pine and other soft woods are usually easy to remove; large and deep dents, especially in hard wood, are harder to repair. Dents are easiest to remove from bare wood. Very large, shallow dents are probably best left untreated. Very deep dents should be filled, as detailed below for cracks and gouges.
Use a fine pin or needle to drive a series of small holes in a stubborn dent; then swell the wood to raise the dent.
On finished surfaces, you’ll have to remove the finish around the damaged area. Using fine-grit sandpaper, carefully remove the finish for about 1/2 inch around the spot. To raise the wood in the dent, apply a few drops of water to the dent and let the water penetrate the wood for a day or so. Do not wet the entire surface. This treatment may be enough to raise the dent, especially if the dent is shallow and the wood is soft.
If this doesn’t raise the dent, soak a cloth in water and wring it out. Place the damp cloth, folded in several layers, over the dent; then press the cloth firmly with a warm iron.
Be careful not to touch the iron directly to the wood. This moist heat may be enough to swell the wood and raise the dent. If it isn’t, apply a commercial wood-swelling liquid to the area and give it time to work — about a day or so, as directed by the manufacturer.
For deep dents that can’t be raised with water, heat, or wood sweller, use a fine straight pin or needle to drive a series of holes in the dent. Pound the straight pin in about 1/4 inch, and carefully pull it out with pliers; the holes should be as small as possible. Then treat the dent you would for a shallow dent. The pinholes let the water penetrate the wood’s surface. If you’re careful, the holes won’t show when the wood has been raised.
After the dent has been raised, let the wood dry for about a week, and then refinish the damaged area as above. Let the finish dry completely. Lightly buff the new finish with No. 0000 steel wool, and then wax and polish the entire surface.
Deeper cracks and gouges in the surface may require additional work…
Until next time – Dan @ Wood Menders