How To Remove Burns & Scorches from Wood
Tables, floors and accent furniture commonly fall victim to burn marks from cigarettes, cigars and improperly placed pots and pans. In the case of fire damage, the marks can affect a wider variety of surfaces as well as a greater area. With a little bit of patience, elbow grease, and some basic tools, burn marks can be treated to help restore furniture and surfaces to a fresh appearance. Types of wood and wood finishes can vary, so test any products and application methods in an inconspicuous spot or on scrap wood before using them in a wider area.
Start with a clean and clear work area. With extensive burns or fire damage, it may be particularly prudent to work in a well-ventilated area, even bringing the objects requiring repair outside if possible.
For light damage, such as that resulting from fallen cigarette ash, moisten a 0000 (extra-fine) steel wool pad with a non-drying oil such as lemon oil or mineral oil. Buff the affected area with the oiled steel wool along the direction of the grain. After the mark is removed, remove the excess oil with a clean cloth very lightly dampened with water, using a blotting motion. If there is a great deal of oil, you can dust the area lightly with flour to help with absorption, and then blot the combination residue away with a clean cloth lightly dampened with water. If necessary, the stain removal can be followed with a light overall buff and polish using a soft cloth and the appropriate paste wax or polishing compound.
For heavier damage, the blackened, burnt wood - or char - must actually be removed. A curved blade (reminiscent of a grapefruit knife, but without the serrated edges) can be used to carefully scoop out the char, avoiding the unaffected areas of the surface. If you don't have this specialized tool, you can substitute a fine-grit sandpaper. Work gradually, periodically brushing away the char with a clean rag lightly dampened with water. The final layers of char can be lightly sanded away, until the first layer of unburned wood appears in the bottom, sides and perimeter of the affected area. Clean the area well, and completely remove the char residue with a clean cloth lightly dampened with water. Allow the area to dry thoroughly before treating the resultant depression with the techniques for gouges and dents described in this section.
Caution: Never mix cleaning agents or chemicals, the result can be dangerous or deadly. Before cleaning, always test the agent on an inconspicuous location to determine its suitability and to make certain it does not damage the material. Wear appropriate clothing such as gloves and protective eyewear, and work in a well-ventilated area. Accidental inhalation or ingestion of cleaning agents can be hazardous and even fatal, particularly to pets and children.