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Ironing out dents in wood

Discussion in 'Question of the Day' started by ship, Jan 25, 2007.

  1. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    So there is a practice that's about of ironing out dents in wood but it's not well defind. Here is some questions about the technique that in being answered, might make the concept easy enough for others to feel comfortable in using - using the water around the ding to swell the fibers of the wood back to shape.

    1) This technique is safe to do on both non-finished and pre-finished furniture. If it works on pre-finished furniture also, is there types of finish that it will or will not work on or will the steam/heat damage a finish?

    2) A damp cloth is put over the material to get the dent out of, Iron placed on it. Are you placing water in the dent and letting it soak in first, or using the water within an iron to further steam the dent? Do you do both or one? How long does it take or what do you watch for?

    3) Is there an optimum type of cloth to use or some types of material in general to stay away from?

    4) How large a ding is this recommended for and how many times can you if at all re-attempt this before it damages the surface? How long before re-attempts.

    5) Re-sanding completes the technique, how soon afterwards?

    6) And oh' by the way, what temperature should that iron be set at for best results?
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2007
  2. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Steaming wood to get out small imperfections is a time honored technique that does work.


    1) This technique is safe to do on both non-finished and pre-finished furniture. If it works on pre-finished furniture also, is there types of finish that it will or will not work on or will the steam/heat damage a finish?

    Ship I'm going to assume that is a question begining with, "Is this technique...?" This technicque will work on unfinished wood, and possibly wood with simple shellac on it. I would not guarranttee the results on any finished wood however as the finish will most likely deterioate during the process. If the finish isn't harmed by the steam the resulting movement in the wood, would, most likely, cause the finish to crack in that particular area.


    2) A damp cloth is put over the material to get the dent out of, Iron placed on it. Are you placing water in the dent and letting it soak in first, or using the water within an iron to further steam the dent? Do you do both or one? How long does it take or what do you watch for?

    I prefer to place a small amount of water on the dent and let it soak in, then repeat you don't want the water to soak into the surrounding area too much as it will raise the hole area.

    3) Is there an optimum type of cloth to use or some types of material in general to stay away from?

    Washcloth, shoprag, any thicker material will do. Just remember you don't want to use too much water over too large an area or you will wind up raising the entire area

    4) How large a ding is this recommended for and how many times can you if at all re-attempt this before it damages the surface? How long before re-attempts.

    Anything bigger than 1/4" x 3/4" I've never had too much success at. You are basically hydrating the fibers in a particular area, and if the damage is spread over too large an area the fibers usually won't line up right. Keep trting it till you're exhausted, disgusted, or successful. < kind of like this business we're in.>

    5) Re-sanding completes the technique, how soon afterwards?

    Give it a day, if possible, the fibers may shrink back down and you want to make sure they aren't going to.

    6) And oh' by the way, what temperature should that iron be set at for best results?

    Hot, any thing in like the cotton / linen setting but something suficient to make steam. An Iron, typically will not "burn" the surface of wood, it just doesn't get that hot. That being said, some woods will discolor more easily than others. You want to leave the iron on the area long enough the the wood surface seems mostly dry. It's the process of evaporaing the water out of the wood that causes the area to return to normal.

    Wetting wood between sandings with either alcohol or water is a technique often used to prep wood for final finishes when dealling with high quality finishes and furniture. Lightly dragging a damp cloth over the surface of the wood < in the direction of the grain, not against it !> causes loose fiber ends to swell so that when you come back over with the next sanding pass you take every loose fiber with the paper. This is reccomended when dealing with really fine grades of paper in the order of 600 - 1400 something that you might use when prepping a face for french polishing. the important thing to remember is that you must let the water evaporate before sanding or the wood will "ball-up" and then it's back to the 320 - 400 grit paper.

    Hope that helps / answers the question.
     

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