Getting Scratches Out of Wood Cabinets and Furniture

by Kasey
Oh no! You’ve gone and done it, you’ve made a scratch (or discovered a scratch) on your wooden cabinet and now the mood of the day just seems a little bit more sour.

But hold up, there’s no reason to get upset just yet. Wood scratches have troubled carpenters and DIY enthusiasts alike for countless generations, and over time multiple interesting solutions have been discovered—some of which you may never have expected.
So chin up, dry your eyes, and get ready to get handy because we have a scratch to fill in and few choices on how to proceed.
Rub Walnut Over It

Perhaps you have heard rumors about this method, and yes it does actually work when it comes to covering lighter scratches.

Essentially, this approach involves removing the hard shell of the walnut entirely and rubbing the meat over a scratch in order to fill it in. It’s a little messy, but when you press the meat into the scratch the natural oils of the walnut will dull the intensity of the scratches with its inherent wood-like color.

Then, after letting the oils settle in for a few minutes, wipe away any excess with a soft rag and the scratch should be gone. Because of the walnut’s color, this method works best on lighter shades of wood, and is not very effective when it comes to darker wood types, such as cherry.
Cover with a Touch-Up Marker

This perhaps is the quickest and easiest method for covering light scratches, assuming you have the supplies on hand, though perhaps not the most interesting when compared to a walnut.

All this approach requires is that you take an appropriate wood touch-up marker which matches the color of your wood or wood stain, apply it to the scratched surface, and then wipe the area down with a soft rag to clear away any excess that may be left over from the touch-up marker.

Packs of effective markers can commonly be found for less than $10, and usually offer multiple shades of wood-inspired colors to best match your home furniture, so it may be a good idea to keep some stocked for your next wood-scratched situation.
Apply a Fresh Wood Stain

This classic method is the most labor-some, but it is also the best method for fixing those deeper scratches which walnuts and wood markers can’t handle.

In a nutshell, you’ll need sandpaper to sand down the scratched area of wood. After sanding, it’s time to apply an appropriate stain that matches the color of your cabinet. Once you’re finished, wipe away any excess with a soft rag and give the wood enough time to dry.

But you aren’t done yet! For the last step, apply a final coat of polyurethane over the treated area to protect and complete the stain.

There you Have It!

These three effective methods should be everything you need to quell the most bothersome of wood blemishes. Scratches may be a nuisance and an eyesore at times, but remember, they are nothing that a little touch up can’t fix.
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
3 of 4 questions
  • Mlw8327576 Mlw8327576 on Feb 25, 2017
    How do you remove heat marks on a wooden table? I've tried mayonnaise, oil polish but the marks still show. it's on my beautiful dinning table. i put a hot plate down 1st but the dish must have been too hot. The mark has a foggy appearance on the wood.
  • Gra10473774 Gra10473774 on Apr 26, 2017

    How do you fixed scratches in hardwood floors?

  • Joa21177307 Joa21177307 on Jun 05, 2017

    My wood desk has some deep grooves from chair arm hitting it all down the edge, looks like dog chewed it, can I do anyhing?

Join the conversation
2 of 7 comments
  • Mary Thorne Mary Thorne on Feb 26, 2017
    The walnut trick really works, unless you have a dog who likes the taste!
  • Johanne Palange Johanne Palange on Jan 07, 2020

    I have done this on a hardwood floor. The sofa was moved and something under the foot left a long scratch mark. I had heard about the walnut trick but wasn't sure it would work. I did it, with no other products used, like the marker or stain or refinishing, and months later, I can't even tell where the scratch was.