Remove a dent from yor wood project

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Blog entry by captferd posted 12-17-2013 09:51 PM 2429 reads 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Sometimes you end up with a little dent and its always in the spot it will show the most. There are several ways to get rid of them, but here is the way I do it the most. I’ve actually tried sanding them flat only to end up with a bump. This is were the dented wood is still there and the finishing process caused it to raise. So its sometimes beneficial to address a dent and fix it unless you want an eyesore that you’ll see every time you look at your project.

-- CaptFerd

11 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


117091 posts in 3576 days

#1 posted 12-17-2013 10:14 PM

I’ve been doing this for a while ,it actually works better if you get it wet first with water,that help expand the grain faster.
You can also just use drops of hot water from the micro wave.
Thanks for sharing this.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Oldtool's profile (online now)


2624 posts in 2190 days

#2 posted 12-17-2013 10:31 PM

I’ve seen this alcohol trick before, as well as the water one, and I prefer the water solution.
I set the dent as level as possible, fill it with water & let it soak in, then use a 15 watt / 30 watt soldering iron to stream the water. The 15 watt setting doesn’t burn the wood, and the dent steams out very well for me so far. Sometimes, just hot tap water is all that is needed, depending on how big the dent us.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View a1Jim's profile


117091 posts in 3576 days

#3 posted 12-17-2013 10:35 PM

That’s true Oldtool I have use the same method except after filling thr dent with water I use a damp towel and a Iron set to it hottest setting.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View quartrsawn's profile


146 posts in 3212 days

#4 posted 12-18-2013 02:42 AM

Hot iron tricks works… have used it for years.

-- Nat - West Sayville,L.I., NY

View bobasaurus's profile


3451 posts in 3183 days

#5 posted 12-18-2013 03:11 AM

I wet dents with water and use a heat gun. Usually pops them right up, then I can sand to blend it in. Just had to do this yesterday for a piece of cottonwood I dented with the edge of a hand plane.

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

View captferd's profile


172 posts in 2393 days

#6 posted 12-18-2013 10:24 AM

Thanks everyone for taking your time to comment. Lots of good extra information on the subject. One thing that did slip my mind was getting the dent wet at first. I did spend a little more time than it would normally take. Thanks again.

-- CaptFerd

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3333 days

#7 posted 12-18-2013 04:59 PM

Thanks captfred. That’s one way I didn’t know about. it seems to work real well, especially considering that a lot of that dent was end grain. I usually just use water, but I don’t normally heat it. I just keep rewetting until the dent swells all the way out. I guess heat is a lot faster.

an interesting variation on the theme is to take a rounded end punch and punch a series of random or evenly spaced round dents in the wood on a turning or box top whatever. Then plane or sand the surface flat and wet with water, put a damp rag on top and iron it with your wife’s new iron (if you dare). The punched dents will rise above the flat surface and you will have a nice pimply surface to mystify your woodworking friends with.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View a1Jim's profile


117091 posts in 3576 days

#8 posted 12-18-2013 05:26 PM

Good one Mike
It seems like I,ve seen Roy Underhill use a similar technique to make a small water proof box for his wet stone.
If I remember right he used a cold chisel to flaten a groove all the way around the perimitor of the bottom and on the edges for the butt joint box ,then he did a light planing of the wood were he had dented the groove ,nailed it together and added water. The grooved areas swelled and made the box water proof. Pretty cool.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3333 days

#9 posted 12-18-2013 06:10 PM

Brilliant Jim. What a great idea! The woodworking world has such a large untapped treasure of techniques, most of which we will never find out about because so many took their hard earned knowledge to the grave.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View ChipsCubed's profile


3 posts in 1414 days

#10 posted 11-15-2014 05:54 AM

Perhaps I should have searched hear first, but while working on a replacement cover for my kitchen fluorescent light, I discovered I had made some dents in the soft wood (base molding) that I had glued together. I was really bummed out as I was trying for furniture quality. I was thinking about filling and sanding them when I thought of trying water. I used a wet rag and a squirt bottle to wet then several times and in less than a half hour, all the dents were gone. I couldn’t believe it.

I have worked in wood for decades. Read books and articles. But I can not remember reading or hearing about this trick. It should be made better known. It really works.

View EEngineer's profile


1102 posts in 3613 days

#11 posted 11-15-2014 10:50 AM

Since I am clumsy in the shop :) I have had to deal with this issue a number of times over the years.

Both alcohol and liquid water have a tendency to stain the wood (you can even see this in Ferd’s video). It may get deep enough that you can’t just sand it out.

Now I just use a damp rag with an iron set to low heat. It works as well as the methods detailed here but doesn’t cause staining.

One further note – if you are using oil based stains or finish and treat it with any water, let the piece dry thoroughly before finishing (days, not hours). Water doesn’t seem to have much effect with water-based stains and finishes.

-- "Find out what you cannot do and then go do it!"

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