Q: My kids were playing around the house and a tennis racket hit the leg of our coffee table. Anyway, the racquet has dented the wooden foot and it is quite noticeable. Is there anything I can do?
A: The first thing I would do is establish some ground rules. Maybe you can get the area between the coffee table and the sofa to be out of bounds, and if the ball bounces off the wall, that’s a point for the other player. It’s your decision, but you can check the Wimbledon rules.
The dent you describe is caused by an impact compressing the fibers of the wood. It can be reversed to normal with the help of a little steam.
Simply place a few layers of damp cloth over the dent, then quickly touch the cloth (not the surrounding wood) with a hot iron until you achieve the desired result. Be aware that this process can go wrong quite quickly, so just touch the fabric and lift it quickly and gradually extend the contact time until the bumpy area is level with the surrounding surface. Then let the area dry.
This process works well on solid wood furniture, especially unfinished furniture. If the piece uses veneer (a thin layer of wood that is glued to a cheaper surface), do not apply the iron to it as this will soften the glue holding it together.
Once the area is dry, sand it lightly or the area may absorb more stain and take on a slightly darker color than the surrounding area.
If the impact was strong enough to cut the fibers of the wood, the steam trick won’t work. In this case, you will need to fill the area with wood filler to level it, then stain it to match the surrounding area. If the finish is not cracked or broken and only the wood is compressed, you can try alternating hot and cold in the area.
Generally, you will need a temperature between 100 and 120 degrees for heat and ice for cold.
Lay the dry cloth over the damaged area and apply heat for 10-15 minutes and remove. Then place crushed ice in a bag and put it on the wood at the same time. You can repeat this process several times and the compression will usually go back up.
If this process fails, you may need to scrape off the finish and use the steam trick. But then you will have to refinish the area.
You might reconsider the whole deal if fixing the furniture is beyond your comfort level. Just tell your guests that the dings and scratches give it character.
Mike Klimek is a licensed contractor and owner of Las Vegas Handyman. Questions can be emailed to [email protected] Or send mail to 4710 W. Dewey Drive, No. 100, Las Vegas, NV 89118. Its web address is www.handymanoflasvegas.com.