5 Fast Fixes for Dam­aged Edges

WOOD - - IN THIS ISSUE OF WOOD - Pro­duced by Bob Set­tich with Dave Camp­bell

Dinged a drawer edge? Crunched a cab­i­net cor­ner? Th­ese sim­ple so­lu­tions save you time, work, and money.

It’s hap­pened to all of us: ding­ing a drawer edge or crush­ing a cab­i­net cor­ner. Col­or­ful lan­guage is one re­ac­tion, but af­ter that it’s time to sal­vage the sit­u­a­tion. Th­ese tech­niques will re­pair even big goofs, sav­ing you time, en­ergy, and money.

1 Ma­chine away the prob­lem

Un­less the di­men­sions of your work­piece are ab­so­lutely crit­i­cal, you can of­ten make a prob­lem area com­pletely dis­ap­pear with a ma­chin­ing step or two. Let’s say you’ve banged up the edge of a table­top that will over­hang the aprons. Sim­ply re­cut the top slightly smaller to re­move the dam­age and then rout a fresh pro­file along that edge. No one will ever know that the table­top is 1⁄8" smaller than planned.

An­other quick fix: Slightly al­ter and re­cut the edge pro­file. For ex­am­ple, switch­ing from a 1⁄8" to a 1⁄4" round-over, as shown at left, makes the prob­lem van­ish with only a sub­tle change to your project.

2 Raise the sur­face

Wood swells when it gets wet. Nor­mally, that’s a prob­lem, but you can use this char­ac­ter­is­tic to your ad­van­tage. Dam­p­en­ing wood fibers that were ac­ci­den­tally com­pressed helps the fibers “re­mem­ber” their pre-dam­age po­si­tion. It’s most use­ful on im­pres­sions as deep as 1⁄16".

You can try wa­ter alone, but heat ac­cel­er­ates the process. First, ap­ply a drop or two of wa­ter to the dam­aged area, and give it a minute to soak into the wood. Next, lay a barely damp cloth over the wood to pro­tect it from scorch­ing, and ap­ply heat by touch­ing the tip or edge of a clothes iron to the cloth. Try to con­fine the heat­ing to the im­me­di­ate area of the dam­age, and change the po­si­tion of the cloth of­ten as the heat dries it.

Be pa­tient, be­cause it takes awhile for the wood fibers to re­spond. In fact, you’ll prob­a­bly need to re­peat the soak­ing and iron­ing se­quence sev­eral times. Make sure that the wood dries thor­oughly be­fore sand­ing and ap­ply­ing a fin­ish.

3 Patch with a plug

When di­men­sions are crit­i­cal, such as an in­set door where the re­veal must match that of an ad­ja­cent door, or where re­pairs will be vis­i­ble from two sides, patch the dam­age with a cylin­dri­cal (non­ta­pered) solid-wood plug. To drill the hole into the edge of the work­piece, tilt your drill-press ta­ble to 45°, clamp the wood se­curely, and use a Forstner bit. (It’s guided by its rim, so it won’t wan­der.)

Chuck the plug cut­ter into your drill press, and cut edge-grain plugs, as shown in the photo on the pre­vi­ous page, from project scrap. For ac­cu­rate alignment, mark the grain di­rec­tion on the plugs be­fore re­mov­ing them from the blank. Cut­ting a num­ber of plugs will help en­sure a good match of grain and color. Af­ter fi­nal sand­ing, the plug vir­tu­ally dis­ap­pears.

4 In­lay a re­pair patch

For a re­pair too large for a plug, you’ll need to cut away stock along the edge to in­sert a patch. Again, care­ful stock se­lec­tion will pro­duce a patch that nearly dis­ap­pears. Rout away the dam­age us­ing a 45° cham­fer­ing bit, and com­plete the patch as shown in the pho­tos above. Fi­nally, plane or sand the patch flush with the sur­round­ing wood, and fin­ish-sand.

5 Re­pair sticks res­cue fin­ished projects

If you ding an edge af­ter ap­ply­ing the fin­ish, con­sider us­ing a melt-in lac­quer stick. Heat the spe­cial flex­i­ble re­pair knife over an al­co­hol burner to liq­uefy the color-matched re­pair stick. Ap­ply the melted fix to the wood sur­face (be­low). You can even blend two or more sticks for a cus­tom tint.

Fin­ish the re­pair with 400-grit sand­pa­per and a touch of pol­ish­ing com­pound, or an abra­sive pad to even out the sheen. If you don’t like the re­sults, you can re­move ma­te­rial by again heat­ing the knife.

Deep dam­age may re­quire an in­lay patch. Af­ter rout­ing away the dam­age, taper both ends of the routed patch bed with a sharp chisel (left) to help the patch blend in. Glue the patch in place (right), and then clamp it with painter’s tape. Let the re­pair dry overnight, per­mit­ting any tem­po­rary swelling of the wood at the glue line to sub­side.

Bring the heat. Gen­tly warm the re­pair knife be­cause over­heat­ing a lac­quer stick can scorch and al­ter the color.

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