Introduction: How to Remove a Dent From Wood

Picture of How to Remove a Dent From Wood

After moving some furniture, I inevitably damaged some of it by dropping a heavy tool on it. I'm going to show you the technique I used to fix it and remove the dent without using wood filler.

This technique works great for wood floors and dining room tables, too.

I did this at TechShop.

Step 1: What You'll Need

Picture of What You'll Need
The trick is pretty simple. We're going to use an iron to steam the dent out of the wood.

You'll need the following:
  • An iron
  • Paper towel. I used a shop towel but an old t-shirt or rag will work, too
  • Water

Step 2: Steam the Wood

Picture of Steam the Wood

Put a dab of water on the affected area. Not too much. Just enough to cover the dent(s).

Cover it with your paper towel/rag. At this point, the water will wick through the material. That's fine.

Now, with your iron on its highest setting, hold it over the affected area and make small movements back and forth and in circles. Press down firmly and continue until your paper towel is dry. It won't take long to evaporate.

At this point, the wood fibers are absorbing the water and should expand back to where they were originally.

Continue this process and repeat by adding more water until the dents rise up to be flush with the rest of the material.

Step 3: Sand Smooth

Picture of Sand Smooth

At this point, the area around your dents should be pretty smooth. However, depending on the damage, you may still see an outline from where it was.

Use some sandpaper to go over the area lightly. It won't take much and you'll be able to get your piece back to looking like nothing ever happened to it!


garemur (author)2017-04-30

I used this method many years ago when I had a furniture store and it does work. But with furniture that has a clear finish on it , you will need to take a needle and poke several small holes so the steam can penetrate the clear finish. It does work.

jsollien (author)garemur2017-09-02

Great addition, many questions on this. I wish you could add this to the instructable somehow!


: D

piotrDIY (author)2017-05-04

Awesome! I'll give it a try!

harrywevans (author)2017-05-04

Fantastic, what a brilliant idea thank you one for the notebook

Izzy47 (author)2017-05-04

Thank you so much I now have a dent free sideboard what a great idea

Oncer (author)2017-05-02

Great! Do I assume that this will only work on unfinished - unwaxed/varnished? I feel one would have to remove a finish on a piece of furniture and then re-finish it after. Very useful to know. Thank you for sharing.

zuqq zardo (author)2017-05-01

Very good! Extremely useful and simple.

rgarcia71 (author)2017-05-01

WOW. Great fix. Thanks for sharing

mohsinmb (author)2017-05-01

Nice idea

blaineaitkens (author)2017-04-30

Seems to me this would be great for unfinished wood. I have a hardwood floor with depressions left from moving a piano. I'm wondering if the finish on the floor would prevent the water from migrating into the woodgrain.

BrandonW86 (author)blaineaitkens2017-05-01

Logic would suggest so. Most finishes, stains, or lacquers are oil-based or wax-based (or some other kind of petroleum distillate), which would inherently repel water once it's soaked into the wood grain at the cellular level. The only way to get around that would be to sand it down and go from there (but that's not practical).

Steinzel (author)2017-05-01

Nice Instructable! Thanks for this!

stoobey (author)2017-05-01

Simple, yet effective

danvilleman (author)2014-12-28

Does anyone have an idea for doing something similar to laminate "wood" flooring that got damp and the fiber/paper swelled at the edges creating a series of humps at each joint in an area? I tried using an iron on highest setting just to see if it would melt the surface. Even with 100+ lbs pressure I couldn't compress the edges down. Has anyone tried it with steam? I don't want to add to the problem and make the ridges even more prominant. It is right in front of the fireplace so don't suggest covering with a rug.

Bigdeisel1d (author)danvilleman2017-04-30

If the wood man made like fiber board rhen what happened is it broke down the glue inside. Dried and then the hold its shape the wood was swollen. Sometimes it made with glue that has a polyurethane in it. If possible try in a hidden area or if you have a extra peice to experiment with. You might need a solvent that will brake down the glue. But it might break down the laminate at the same time. I had the same problem on a pool table. It work with mineral spirits and an iron on as low as it would good.

TimB2 (author)danvilleman2017-04-30

I really do not think it would be a workable idea. The wood or paper fibers are compressed under a lot of pressure while the glue is drying. If I understood the people at HD correctly the water damages the glue and the fibers expand like a decompressing sponge.

TimTheWizard (author)danvilleman2017-04-30

Not sure if I understand this right but it would be the fake wood 2x4 things right?

If so I've just removed the piece(s) and replaced it with a new one from a hardware store.

faysalgeo (author)danvilleman2017-04-30

can u plz share some imageS?

De Silva (author)2017-04-30


ktang77 (author)2016-02-07

question: can I use heat gun instead iron. Thanks.

Meerkat Lover (author)ktang772017-04-30

I absolutely wouldn't used a heat gun. Risk is too high for burning.

Drake88 (author)ktang772017-04-30

The heat gun may evaporate more of the water than an iron would, you might have to use more water during the process

Golfingpunk (author)2017-04-30

Fantastic! Thanks!

GVStewart (author)2017-04-30

I started useing this method way back in the 1950s to remove dents in gun stocks. It will remove almost all dents and even some shallow gouges can be raised enough to make them almost disappear.

oneillk (author)2017-04-30

Friend, I DO suggest a rug - a hearth rug; it will look nice and protect your floor from sparks, etc.

nonobadog (author)2017-04-30

If it is a small ding, sometimes you can fix it by putting a wet Q-tip right on the dent and leaving it there a while. I fix small dents in pool cues this way.

shortcake75 (author)2017-04-18

I had a mishap with a propped hand mixer falling and making a few small dents on the front edge of my finished buffet table. Used this process to remove the dents, and it worked happy! Just be sure you iron until dry to avoid a white moisture spot on wood finish.

Stavros0911 (author)2017-03-04

Will this work on finished satin pine floors?

LiamA18 (author)2016-09-22

will this work on pre varnished timber? i dented a floor by accident and this is the only method i found, and for how long should i keep the iron on the towel for?

Pigumon (author)2016-03-01

I seriously just had this idea in my head, since a wet glass or mug makes an expanded ring on wood... could you just add water to a dent?

And this page had the answer! Thanks!

Pete24 (author)2016-02-08

What a great fix! Thanks

Sparklely Gramma (author)2016-02-08

Thank You. I'll remember this if I find an old piece of furniture with this type of damage.

Phil_S (author)2016-02-07

Centuries old.

The water swells the fibres, the heat speeds it up - amazing

ClearCaseMan (author)2016-02-07

awesome tutorial. I have used this many times to remove dents from gun stocks. many times if the wood fibers area not torn then you do not have to sand. thanks for the guide.

cometeguy (author)2016-02-07

Also, you do not ALWAYS need heat. Many times I have removed small dents from bare maple by just dabbing some saliva on it. Within an hour, the dent is gone. If the dent is small, try this first before applying heat.

AntonB22 (author)2016-02-07

This is ingenious!!! Thank you so much!)

AntonB22 (author)2016-02-07

This is ingenious!!! Thank you so much!)

Thinkenstein (author)2016-02-07

That's a new one for me. Thanks!

AlanF28 (author)2016-01-15

Will this work on pre-finished hardwood floors? Thanks!

Dark Solar (author)AlanF282016-02-07

This technique will work on prefinished wood floors; you will need to gently scrape away the finish (polyurethane, varnish, etc.) in the dent until the wood fibers are exposed. I find a scalpel-type exacto blade works really well for getting into the tight spots of dents.

This technique will also work on prefinished composite flooring IF the dent does not run deeper than the surface material and the surface material has not been pressure- impregnated (stabilised with resin). Hope this helps. :D

jose kalathil (author)2016-02-07

Rich idea.

WichalR (author)2016-02-07


Scumbdyoit (author)2016-02-07

My part-time job during college years in the 1970s was in a piano factory, where we used this technique routinely. The last steps before applying stain and finish to the piano wood tops, sides, and other panels were light hand-sanding of sharp edges and inspection for flaws. Stray wood chips caught between stacked boards might cause dents in the wood surface. We would apply a drop of water to a small dent with a moistened finger tip (don't use more water than necessary), then touch a hot iron to it (like pressing a shirt). The compressed wood fibers would swell and dry, and another light sanding made the dent disappear. This worked on solid and veneered surfaces.

Larger dents would be a problem, as would finished surfaces. The hot iron and the sanding will almost certainly damage the finish. Practice on a scrap piece of lumber (or maybe the bottom of the table or the hidden corner of a closet for wood flooring) before tackling a highly visible dent.

AlanF28 (author)2016-01-15

Will this work on pre-finished hardwood floors? Thanks!

cowboyathome (author)2015-12-23

HA! I just did this yesterday on a piece of wood my wife wanted to use for crafts.
Works like a charm as long as the "dent" is not too deep.

vmay06 (author)2015-10-11

Question: Will this work with a painted surface?? I have a dented piece of trim on my fireplace.........

St Anton (author)2015-08-30

What did you do? Set the iron down and go to sleep? ]:o)

LinzM (author)2015-07-29

This saved my life today...just the iron and a wet cloth worked...thanks so much! I almost spent 100.00 on a new coffee table.

persia111 (author)2015-07-15

I think I'll use this for my sisters floor, but I have a question: how much can you depend on this? ~> Is the repaired area easily damaged again?

About This Instructable




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