How to Fix Scratches on a Wood Table

How to Fix Scratches on a Wood Table

 A wood table is a gorgeous addition to any home. Whether it’s a lavish dining table or a low coffee table, wood furniture adds understated luxury and warmth.

However, while wood is beautiful, it’s not indestructible. Over time, scratches can appear on your favorite table.

Luckily, a scratch or two isn’t the end of the world. In fact, with the right knowledge and tools, you can fix the scratches on your wood table and keep it looking as good as new.

Understanding the Basics of Wood Table Scratches

Before you begin the process of fixing your table, it’s worth understanding the nature of table scratches. As such, we’re starting with a quick primer.

Types of Scratches

Essentially, you’ll find two types of scratches on a wood table: superficial and deep.

Superficial scratches are light, surface-level markings. These scrapes typically only affect the finish, not the wood below.

Deep scratches are more intense gashes on your table. They impact the finish and the wood itself, and you’ll feel them clearly as you run your hand along the furniture.

Learn how to refinish a dining table in our blog for more.

Common Causes

Both superficial and deep scratches appear thanks to various causes, including:

  • Everyday use – Plates and cutlery can scrape the surface of the wood, as can fingernails, board game pieces, and other household objects.
  • Pets – Cats and dogs can easily damage wood furniture with their claws. It doesn’t have to be intentional, either—a cat simply running across your table can leave marks.
  • Accidents – Deeper gashes are often the result of mishaps, such as dropped items, spills, or falls.

DIY Methods to Repair Minor Scratches

No matter how your table scratches appeared, you may be able to fix them. In fact, you might already have everything you need.

Here’s how to fix scratches on a wood table.

Oil and Vinegar Method

For small scratches, grab vinegar and vegetable oil. These household staples combine to create a scratch-removing mixture. The vinegar is a natural cleaner, while the oil fills in the gaps in the wood.1

For this approach, mix one part vinegar with three parts oil. Clean your table’s surface with a soft rag, then apply the vinegar-oil solution with a lint-free cloth. After a few minutes, use a clean cloth to wipe off the mixture, and you’re done!

Using a Walnut

Believe it or not, you can use a walnut to erase your wood-table woes. While this trick only works for very shallow scratches, it’s perfect in a pinch.

Simply take a raw walnut and rub it over the scratch a few times.2 Then, run your finger over the scratch to let the walnut’s natural oils penetrate.

Advanced Techniques for Deeper Scratches

Some damage can’t be undone with olive oil and snack foods. For deeper scratches, you’ll have to turn to hardware stores.

Wood Filler for Gouges and Deep Scratches

Before you can use this spreadable solution, you need to choose the right product. For an indoor wood table, reach for a stainable or water-based filler; for outdoor furniture, choose a solvent-based filler.3

Once you have the filler, follow the instructions on the container. These typically involve preparing the table surface, applying the filler using a putty knife, and sanding the dried filler to ensure the surface is flush before re-staining it.

As you can see, wood filling can be a little complicated. When in doubt, talk to an expert.

Wax Fill Sticks and Furniture Markers

A slightly simpler option is using a wax fill stick and furniture marker combo. These tools fill in mid-sized gouges, blending scratches into the wood’s finish.

To use them, select a color that matches your table’s finish. From there, apply the wax stick to the scratch, then cover the filled-in scratch with the marker.4

Preventing Future Scratches

Of course, if you can prevent scratches from happening, you won’t need to cover them up. Below are some tips for keeping your table in tip-top shape.

Selecting Durable Wood Types

The harder the wood of your table, the harder it will be to scratch. To that end, look for durable types of wood for furniture like:

  • Alder
  • Teak
  • Cherry
  • Oak
  • Walnut
  • Mahogany

For example, the Knotty Alder Round Top Heirloom Pedestal Table from James+James will stand up to wear and tear.

Regular Maintenance Tips

You can also take steps to avoid scratches and other damage. These include:

  • Cleaning your table regularly – Some scratches come from crumbs and dirt. Regular cleaning removes debris and keeps your table looking new.
  • Using placemats and coasters – Anything that keeps plates and cups from making contact with the table will protect it in the long run.
  • Applying a protective coating – If your table didn’t come with a durable finish, you may be able to add one yourself. All James+James tables are sealed with polyurethane, providing a protective layer against stains and scratches.
Round dining table

Table Beyond Repair? Explore Wood Dining Tables from James+James

When it comes to wood tables, the good news is that you can usually remove scratches after a few minutes of work. However, if a pesky scratch won’t disappear, it may be time for a new piece of furniture.

For a beautiful table that will stand the test of time, turn to James+James. Our hand-crafted custom wood tables are the perfect centerpiece for your dining room, living room, or bedroom.

Shop our table collection today to see for yourself.


  1. House Digest. The Perfect Fix For Scratched Wood Furniture Is Already In Your Kitchen.
  2. Family Handyman. Fix Wood Scratches with Walnuts.
  3. Bob Vila. How to Use Wood Filler to Repair Furniture, Flooring, and More.
  4. Bob Vila. 10 Genius Ways To Fix Scratches on Any Surface.

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