Repairing wood furniture is easier than you might expect, and materials, available at your local paint store or home center, are inexpensive. Here are some touch-up tips:
* Small gouges and holes can be easily filled with shellac sticks. You can get special burn-in shellac sticks, in a variety of colors, through woodworking supply outlets. Other materials you'll need that are available through the same source include a burn-in knife (you can substitute a grapefruit knife), an alcohol lamp, 400-grit waterproof abrasive paper, a felt block and leveling solvent (usually alcohol).
* To use the stick, heat the tip of the knife over the alcohol lamp. Hold the hot knife over the gouge and press the stick against the blade until the shellac melts into the gouge. Reheat the blade, wipe it clean with fine steel wool and spread the shellac level.
* Avoid touching the surrounding finish. If some melted shellac does get on the surrounding surface, let it get firm but not hard, then gently scrape it off. Remove any residue with a piece of cloth moistened with alcohol.
* Moisten the felt block with leveling solvent and rub it briskly over the hardened shellac. Dry sand the area with 400-grit paper and use a felt-tip marker to draw in grain lines. Seal the patch with shellac and apply finish.
* To remove white spots or rings on a shellacked surface left from a wet glass, rub some toothpaste over the spot with the tip of your finger. If this doesn't do the trick, rub the surface with a soft cloth lightly moistened with denatured alcohol or lacquer thinner. Then apply paste wax and buff.
* A cigarette burn--or any other deep localized burn--is repaired by patching with wood filler. Scrape away charred wood using a razor knife with a curved blade. Clean the depression with a cloth dampened with paint thinner, then pack it with a filler that's colored to match the wood, or stain the filler to match. When the patch is dry, sand it smooth and level to the surrounding surface. Use a felt marker to draw in grain lines, seal the spot and apply top finish.
* A veneer blister may be flattened by heating it and pressing it down. The finish on and around the blister may have been damaged as the blister formed. Gently scrape off any flaking or cracked finish before repairing.
* Cut into the center of the blister along the grain with a razor knife to let the air escape. Heat the blister with a hair dryer to soften the adhesive. Then roll the blister flat with a veneer roller, weight it down or clamp a small block of wood over it.
* A blister that formed at the edge of a surface is easily repaired. Gently slide a little glue under the peeled section and clamp a block over it.
* On large veneer blisters, make an X-shaped slit to permit access for recementing. Regardless of whether the veneer was originally applied with glue or contact cement, use contact cement to make the repair. Gently bend back each flap of the X and apply cement to the veneer and the substrate with a small brush. Let the cement air dry, then press the veneer back in place. Apply pressure with a roller or by placing a wood block on the repair and tapping it with a hammer.