How to Repair Scratches in Lacquer Wood Finish

A glossy, lacquered wood surface.
What You'll Need
Wood furniture cleaner
Soft cloths
Two-step car wax
Steel wool pad (#0000)
Liquid furniture wax
Fine paintbrush
Lacquer thinner
Paste wax
Wood fill sticks
Wood markers
Clear lacquer
Spray lacquer
Wood stain

Most commercially produced furniture is coated with a lacquer finish. It's the economical choice given that it takes less time than other finishes to get an excellent result. However, for the owner, lacquer provides an additional benefit: small and large scratches are fairly simple to repair. The tools and materials needed are easy to find at any hardware or home improvement stores, and in most cases, this will take no more than a few minutes.

Step 1 - Apply Car Wax for Minor Damage

Use a cleaner to remove any dirt, debris, or oils from the lacquered surface. Then, apply a wet-finish car wax. Putting a couple coats of this on the area may help to reduce the appearance of shallow scratches.

Step 2 - Repair Finish-only Scratches

If the scratch isn't deep enough to penetrate into the wood beneath the finish, then start by buffing into—not through—the finish with #0000 steel wool. Apply liquid wax using a circular motion with a new cloth after you're done with the steel wool. Leave it to dry before you buff it again with another soft cloth.

Step 3 - Repair Crazing

Fine lines and cracks in the finish can be fixed by using a fine paintbrush dipped in lacquer thinner. The solvent will work with the lacquer to level it out. Let it dry, and afterward, apply paste wax to the area and buff it.

Step 4 - Re-stain the Wood Area to Hide the Damage

Use a wood fill stick or wood marker to re-stain the damaged area before you wax over it. The trick to making the scratch disappear is to use the correct color. This can be followed by reapplying a small amount of lacquer finish.

Step 5 - Repair Deep Scratches

If the scratch is deep enough to penetrate through the wood, then start your repair by sanding it with 220-grit sandpaper. Switch to a progressively finer grit as you go to smooth out the scratch. Once it is sanded, spray on lacquer. Be sure to choose a satin, flat, or gloss lacquer that matches your existing finish. Go over the area with a couple of coats and sand in between. Finish by buffing with fine steel wool and then with a soft cloth.

Step 6 - Strip and Refinish for Major Damage

If there is major damage to a piece of furniture, including numerous deep scratches, you may want to consider stripping the finish, sanding out blemishes to the wood surface, and re-staining the piece. Be sure to clean and let the wood dry after stripping and sanding. Then, after adding a new stain, you can coat the furniture in lacquer once again. Apply several coats and sand lightly between each, being sure to sand with the grain to achieve the smoothest finish.

Knowing how to fix different kinds of scratches will ensure that your DIY repairs produce the best result. Also, while preventing damage to your furniture is always preferred, making sure to remedy scratches and gouges as soon as you notice them will keep your lacquer-finished wood furniture looking its finest.