You can hide scratches with permanent-ink felt-tip markers. You can either use the furniture touch-up markers available at hardware stores and home centers, or, to get an exact match, buy markers at an art supply store that carries an array of colors. For thorough coverage, you may need to dab the ink onto the scratch, let it dry, then even out the color by stroking lightly across it with the tip. Keep in mind that colors tend to darken when they soak into wood fibers.
Clean Dirty, Greasy, Gummy Surfaces
The results of a simple surface cleaning with mineral spirits may amaze you. Polish buildup and the dirt embedded in it muddy the finish but will wipe away. Don't use stronger solvents; they might dissolve the finish itself.
Soak a coarse, absorbent, clean cloth with mineral spirits and wipe the finish. Keep applying and wiping until the cloth no longer picks up dirt. Then do a final wipe with a fresh, clean rag.
Clean crevices, grooves and carved areas with cotton swabs dipped in mineral spirits.
Fill in gouges with colored putty sticks, sold at most hardware stores and home centers. This putty works well for small holes and nicks but is somewhat trickier to use as a fill for larger damage like we show here. Unlike hardening putties, it remains soft and somewhat flexible, so you have to shape it carefully. And it won't hold up under heavy wear.
Buy several sticks of putty similar to the color of the stain you want to match. Scrape flakes from each, then mix and knead them with your fingertips until the color is right. The heat from your fingers also softens the putty for easy application. Make the patch slightly darker than the furniture; lighter will be more obvious. Press putty tightly into the gouge with a small flat stick, then flatten it and scrape away the excess with the stick's long edge. Round the end of the stick with sandpaper.
Wipe away any putty adhering to the wood around the gouge, and smooth the surface of the putty with a clean cloth. A thin, light-colored line will usually appear around the perimeter of the patch. Use a matching marker to color this line. Spray the patch with two or three quick passes of shellac, then after it dries, a few quick passes of spray lacquer—either high gloss or satin, depending on your furniture's finish. Never apply lacquer or polyurethane/varnish directly over a putty patch; it will leave a permanently soft mess. Shellac will harden; however, the patch will remain somewhat pliable under the finish, so don't attempt this on a heavy-wear surface.