Get Rid of Unsightly Marks on Wood Cabinets

All it takes is one wrong move and SCRATCH! There goes your pretty wood cabinet, but not for good. There is a way to repair it without replacing it.


First, inspect the scratch. Determine if it’s just damaged the finish or penetrated the wood.  If it’s a finish scratch, you’ll see flaking varnish with the darker-stained wood underneath.  If it’s a wood scratch, you’ll see bare wood that is lighter than the rest of the cabinet and maybe wood flakes.  Before you begin repair, clean the surface with a damp rag dipped in dish soap and water. Let the wood dry completely.

Finish scratch

Solution #1: Rub the loose varnish with sandpaper or fine steel wool. Be very gentle so you don’t rub the wood. You just want to remove the flaking varnish and roughen up a small area around it.

Apply a thin coat of wipe-on oil finish using a brush, rag, or cotton swab. Wipe the area with a clean, dry cloth. Use another coat if you need to until you get the right color.

Solution #2: Get an oil-based wood stain that’s one shade lighter than your cabinet finish. You can always apply more coats if it’s too light, but it’s harder to lighten a stain that’s too dark. Wear gloves so you don’t get any stain on your hands.

Remove damaged varnish by following instructions in step one above. Dip a brush, rag, or cotton swab lightly into the stain and tap off the excess. Very lightly brush the stain over the scratch to cover it up. Wipe over the area with a clean, dry cloth. If you still see traces of the scratch then lightly spray on a finish topcoat.

You can simplify this process by using a wood finish marker. It’s a marker with oil-based stain inside. Simply rub it on the scratch and wipe with a dry rag.

Wood Scratch

Solution #1: Follow step two from above with the stain. This won’t fix the indentation made from the scratch, but it will cover up the lighter wood underneath.
Solution #2: Color it in with a furniture repair marker. These felt-tip markers come in a variety of wood tones. Apply only to the damaged area. If any gets on the surrounding area wipe off immediately.
Solution #3: Fill in the scratch with a furniture wax stick. Find a color that matches your wood cabinets. Firmly press down on the wax stick and rub it perpendicular over the scratch. Run a credit card across the surface to remove extra wax. Then polish it with a dry cloth.
Solution #4: Rub the scratch with the meat of a pecan or walnut. You read that right. The oil in the nut will darken the wood.

Now that you know how easy it can be to fix your cabinets stop procrastinating. Use these tips to get your wood looking as good as new.

Tiecen Anderson

In her former life, Tiecen worked in sales and marketing for a large insurance company. Before starting a family, she decided to switch gears and pursue a career that would give her a little more time at home. She finished up her degree from California Sate University in 2008 and started picking up work as a corporate web content writer. She enjoys learning new things every day as she works with a wide variety of clients, like Knotty Alder Cabinets.

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