How to Repair Scratched Wood Veneer Furniture

An isolated, veneered desk against a white background.
  • 2-5 hours
  • Beginner
  • 30-70
What You'll Need
Furniture cleaner/polish
Clean rags
Furniture wax
Shoe polish, crayons, or iodine
Denatured alcohol
Nut meats (walnut, pecan, etc.)
Wax scratch filler
Credit card (plastic putty knife of similar thickness)
Small paintbrush
Commercial scratch repair solution
Clothes iron

Even when you are careful with the surface of a piece of wood veneer furniture, accidents do happen. Everyday use can result in light scratches if you are not exceptionally careful to lift, rather than slide, objects across the surface of a table. Or, if your piece is not properly protected during a move, deeper scratches can scar the surface easily. However, there are several do-it-yourself repairs you can attempt before going to the expense of hiring a professional repair service or replacing the veneer.

1. Clean the Surface

Use high-quality furniture cleaner to remove all dust and dirt from the surface, paying close attention to the scratched area. Dry the cleaner completely with a rag. Next, apply furniture wax and buff thoroughly with a new cloth. This will remove any small scratches from the surface. Concentrate on the deeper scratches to be certain the area is very clean.

2. Dye to Match Color

Nuts in shells

First, dye the scratched surface with shoe polish, a brown crayon, or iodine. If you use iodine, you will need a differently aged chemical depending on the color of the veneer; iodine darkens to a deeper brown color with age. For mahogany veneer furniture use new iodine. Use older, darkened iodine for brown or mahogany stained cherry. Make a solution of 50/50 iodine and denatured alcohol to stain a walnut veneer scratch.

You can also use the meat of the black walnut, pecan, or a Brazil nut to dye the surface by rubbing the meat of the nut directly into the scratch. Do not allow the meat of the nut to get on the rest of the piece, or the oils will stain the veneer.

3. Wax Stick

Take a wax stick that matches the damaged area and push it into the scratch. Using a credit card or similar plastic object, burnish the wax level with the surface of the veneer. After the scratch is completely filled, you can add grain lines with a small art paintbrush. Apply a paste wax over the entire surface and hand polish.

4. Try a Commercial Scratch Repair Liquid

polishing wood

After cleaning the furniture piece thoroughly, pour a small amount of scratch repair over the damage. Smooth it into the scratch and remove any excess liquid with a putty knife (or credit card). Then, apply paste wax to the entire surface and hand buff with a clean rag.

5. Apply Heat

This step is optional, but it can help in the case of a stubborn scratch. Heat up a clothes iron without water, as steam from the iron may melt the glue on the wood veneer while you’re using it. Place a clean cloth over the surface as well, and then hold a hot iron over it. Do not touch the surface with the iron. In some cases, the heat from the iron will raise the surface of the veneer to make the scratch less noticeable.