Undoing the Dings of Life
So. We’re standing around in the master bedroom, beaming at the cherry renovation that is just about complete. My buddy Dean Rutherford, his clients and me. It’s late afternoon, the sun is golden, the woodwork glows and love is in the air. Just about then one of Dean’s crew, some eager-to-please kid, enters carrying something long and metal. He threads his way through the room carefully but pivots a half-second too soon and the trailing end of the metal thing whacks the flawless face of a $300 fir door. The smiles on four faces seize up and the kid looks he’s swallowed his paycheck.
But Dean, who once aspired to be a priest and worked in the barrios of Chile, is nothing if not compassionate. And calm. “Oh,” he says, regarding the 1/4-in. deep gash in the door. “I can fix that. Got a steam iron?”
I am skeptical and the clients are very quiet. But he does it. He holds a slightly damp cloth over the ding, and applies a steam iron to the cloth till the wood swells slightly. He takes his time and checks his progress periodically. It takes maybe five minutes. Once the heated wood has filled in the gouge he allows the wood to cool, then lightly sands the raised area till it’s level. The door had been finished, so later on Dean uses a small artist’s brush to apply the same finish–thinned slightly–to the damaged area.
May all the dings in your life iron out as nicely.
Thanks to Dean Rutherford for this tip–just one of the thousands of field-tested tips and techniques that you’ll find in Renovation 4th Edition. Brand new from Taunton Press, R4‘s 614 pages include 250+ technical drawings, 1,000 photos selected from the 40,000 that I’ve taken over the years, and lifetimes of experience that builders shared with me. I hope you find it useful. -Mike
© Michael Litchfield 2013
To repair dings from doors or trim, hold a damp cloth over the spot, then apply a steam iron to the cloth till the wood swells slightly. Check your progress periodically and be patient.
Renovation 4th Edition contains the collective wisdom of hundreds of master builders and tradespeople across North America. Most of the book's photos were taken on job sites as they occurred--real tips in real time.