Repairing Surface Scratches to a Lacquered Table

Unless your table predates the early 20th century, then it is probably finished with lacquer. Even though lacquer is a permanent finish, it does sustain scratches — particularly on tabletops. Most scratches are not hard to figure out with fresh lacquer, but you might have a problem matching the shine of this area you repaired together with the remainder of the table. Because of this, it is often best to care for the whole tabletop, which isn’t as tough as it sounds. You may select wax, furniture polish or spray lacquer in an aerosol can, based on the sizes of the scratches.

Remove dirt in the finish by washing it with a mild cleanser, like an ounce of dish soap added to a gallon of warm water.

Repair minor scratch damage by applying a coat of paste wax. Choose a light- or dark-colored wax, based on the color of this table. Spread it generously on the finish, and buff it with a clean cloth. If you prefer not to wax your table, mix equal parts of lemon juice and olive oil in a bowl, and then rub the mixture to the scratches using a clean, lint-free fabric.

Repair scratches that have penetrated through the finish and exposed the timber by first recoloring the timber. You can sometimes do so by rubbing the timber using a nutmeat, like a pecan or walnut; the organic oils bent into the timber and darken it. You may also apply wood stain using an artist’s brush.

Level a large scratch, after coloring the wood, by sanding it gently with 320-grit sandpaper, then dabbing it by lacquer-based clear nail polish, with the applicator that comes in the bottle. The lacquer will soften the old finish, and the scratch must evaporate. You can get similar results with nail polish remover, which is a lacquer thinner.

Combine the sheen of this repair with that of the remainder of the table by spraying on one coat of clear lacquer, with an aerosol can. Make sure to spray a wet coat — the surface must be uniformly shiny after spraying. Wait two hours for the lacquer to dry before polishing or waxing the table.

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