View Full Version : Plywood Scratches

Teresa Jones
02-11-2005, 2:01 PM
The scratch shown in the attached picture is in the plywood panel of the headboard I am working on. I have no idea how or when it got there but I am pretty sick about.

If anyone has any ideas about how I can keep this from ruining the piece, I would be forever grateful.

I am afraid if I try to sand out the scratches I will end up going through the veneer.

Thanks, TJ

Pete Lamberty
02-11-2005, 2:39 PM
Hi Teresa, I know just how you feel when you go to all that work and then there is something like your scratches that seems to ruin it all. Here is something that I have done in the past with some success. As always try this first on some scrap so you don't increase the damage to your good piece. Make a similiar scratch, dent, whatever in your scrap piece. Get out your clothes iron and set it at a medium heat. Take a wet cloth and wipe the area of the scratch. Take a dry cloth and lay it on top of the scratched area. Now iron the piece of dry cloth for a while. The scratched wood should expand. Now sand the area of the scratch and hopefully it will look as good as new. You may have to experiment with the amount of heat that your iron is set on and the amount of water on the wet cloth. You don't want to burn the wood. :eek: Good luck. :)

Jeff Sudmeier
02-11-2005, 2:52 PM
The above tip, works the best with an Iron that has a steam setting. This way you don't risk drying out the rag as easily and burning the wood.

Matthew Dworman
02-11-2005, 3:20 PM
Although that works well with solid wood - I would NOT try it on plywood - the heat will disturb the glue bond and possibly result in delamination. I can't tell the depth of the scratch from the photo, but most veneer faces are about 0.030-0.040" thick - so you migh have some luck just sanding it a bit - start out with 220 grit and just go slow

Dave Brandt
02-11-2005, 4:07 PM
I don't think the iron/steam method will work in this case. It does work on compression (dents) damage in a lot of cases. I would gather up a bunch of saw dust from working with the ply and make a slurry with a little wood glue and force it into the scratches with a plastic putty knife. Be patient and let it dry thoroughly before sanding. Good luck.

Steven Wilson
02-11-2005, 4:54 PM
Flood the area with mineral spirits to see how it looks. You can do some fill in with putty or a woodflour/glue or woodflour/shellac mix. Then when finishing you'll need a small artists brush with vandyke brown to paint in the grain lines. You might also need some shellac with various dyes added so you can match the color a bit better. When done then seal with clear shellac and your top coat of choice. If that's cherry then over time the fix might begin to show.

Steve Jenkins
02-11-2005, 5:10 PM
I've steamed out lots of scratches on both veneer core ply and mdf core. I wet the area first then lay the wet rag over it and hit it with the iron. My iron is set just on the edge of steam. I get a big burst of steam when I put the iron down and use quite a bit of pressure so the steam is forced into the wood. Move the rag so another wet area is over the scratch and try again if you need to. I did this just Monday with some maple plywood.

Chris DeHut
02-11-2005, 5:19 PM
Here are some suggestions....

Stand back and look at the headboard as a whole. Try to visualize if there is something you could add to it that could cover the scratches.

This could be an applied thin strip of wood to look like a panel divider.

It could be an applied molding applique (you can find many at Rockler).

Could you inset a tile in that area and have a matching tile on the opposite side for visual balance.

Or perhaps if you want to get really creative, give some though to inlay. This can be done in many forms (flowers, geometric patterns, etc.)

If you do want to try sanding, find a similar piece of plywood (preferably from the same sheet). Try to replicate the scratch/dent, then try to sand it out on the sample board.

Perhaps if you post a picture of the whole unit, more ideas could surface.

As woodworkers, we try stick to our original plans. However, life has a way of throwing us a curve ball every once in a while which we often perceive as a lemon. Lemons can make for some good lemonade at times, this could be one of those times. Don't panic and don't worry yourself sick over it just yet. Post a picture of the whole unit and lets throw some ideas around that might work with the original design and hide the scratches.


Teresa Jones
02-11-2005, 5:52 PM
Chris, I like the way you think. It never even occurred to me to add something more to the piece. I'll post another photo so you can see the entire headboard.



Teresa Jones
02-11-2005, 6:06 PM

I am hoping this will take you to another posting where I uploaded photos of the headboard.


Teresa Jones
02-11-2005, 6:14 PM

I had to use the steam approach on some other dents in this piece on one of the solid pieces and it worked like a charm. I didn't know if it would work on the plywood but I will give it a shot on a scrap piece and see where I get!

See you TUESDAY!!!!!


Ken Salisbury
02-11-2005, 6:22 PM
The scratch doesn't look all that deep in the photo.

Try this:

Take 2 small pieces of scrap plywood. Apply some medium density CA glue to one piece and generate some slurring by sanding with 180 grit paper. Quickly transfer the "slur" to the other piece and lighly sand it in. If that works then do the same thing transferring from a scrap piece to the finished product. This should fill the scratch with it's own material and become virtually invisable

Be patient - repeat until entire scratch has been filled - I have hidden lots of dents/scatches/voids using this method.

Chris DeHut
02-11-2005, 6:29 PM

I am hoping this will take you to another posting where I uploaded photos of the headboard.


Hi again,

I can't really tell where the scratches are in the picture of the whole unit. Just guessing from the small photo (close up), there is a chance they are lower on the headboard. Could it be that you got pretty lucky and the scratches are below the mattress surface? You may want to do some quick measurements to find out. Also, if possible, can you post a new picture showing where the scratches are?

I think there are some possibilities already with either repairs or with hiding it.


Jerry Clark
02-12-2005, 1:12 PM
I have had good luck using paint thinner- on the area-- it expands the compressed fibers and then lightly sand the area.