After a recent move, I find that some of my fine pieces of furniture were scratched and one table has a small but noticeable dent in the surface. Friends helped us move, and although they were a great help, I feel that we would have been better off to hire professionals to protect our furniture.
Do you have any suggestions on how I might camouflage the damage, without completely refinishing the wood? -- R.H.
There are several methods that will help cover the scratches and fill in the dents. For the scratches, select a wax or liquid shoe polish (not a dye) that matches the color of the wood. Apply with a cotton swab. You may want to add several coats or mix several colors to obtain the best match. Buff the entire area after the application has dried.
Another method of covering scratches is to rub the area with raw linseed oil. Or use a commercial crayonlike stick shellac of the proper hue. They are available at paint stores. New on the market to disguise nicks and scratches is a wood repair and touch-up kit from Woodcraft Supply Corp. (P.O. Box 4000, Woburn, Mass. 01888). The kit contains instructions and all needed materials including five dyes that you can blend to match any finish.
For the dented area you mentioned, try melting a crayon that matches the color of the wood. To melt the crayon, use a soldering iron or tie a nail to a pencil. Then heat the nail over a candle flame and hold the nail to the crayon positioned over the dented area. Overfill the dent and let the wax cool 30 minutes, then shave off the excess with a credit card, leaving a smooth surface. If you don't like the color, reverse the process by liquefying the wax with a heated nail and blotting it out with a dry cloth.
Another method of repairing dents is to steam them out. Don't attempt this if the finish is shellac or if the wood has a veneer surface. First, use a small amount of paint remover to take off the finish covering the dent. Dampen a lint-free cloth, place it over the dent and held a hot iron against the cloth. Check every 30 seconds or so to see if the wood has swelled. When the dent has disappeared as much as its going to, let the spot dry. Restain if necessary and seal with oil or varnish.
We recently moved into a five-year-old house. The kitchen has several fluorescent tubes in an overhead light fixture. When we moved in I was annoyed by constant flickering, so I replaced the old tubes with new ones. This did not correct the problem.
Do you have any suggestions on what can be done, or will I need to replace the fixture? -- H.I.A.
The cause of the flickering may be a faulty starter, which is easy to replace. Check with a local lighting store for purchase and replacement instructions on a new starter.
Other things to check are the sockets, which have screws that must be tight to prevent wobbling. The tube must seat securely. Remove the flickering tube, and clean the end pins by rubbing with fine steel wool. Bend the pins slightly, if necessary, to get a solid seating when the tube is reinserted. You can feel when the pins on each side are making good contact.
We installed a spa in an area we finished off with wood decking. The deck is connected to a patio by a concrete ramp.
The ramp is slippery and hazardous to wet feet. Is there anything I can put on the concrete to make it less slippery? We have a couple of active teen-agers, and I am concerned that someone is going to take a nasty fall. -- R.L.
You can roughen the concrete with muriatic acid. First try a 15 percent mixture of muriatic acid in water, pouring the acid into the water -- not the reverse. Be sure to wear old clothes, rubber gloves and goggles when preparing and using the acid mixture. The solution can be applied with an old mop.
If this fails to roughen the surface sufficiently, increase the acid content. When the solution stops effervescing, it has stopped etching. Rinse thoroughly with clear water. There are also nonslip paints on the market, or you can apply a floor sealer and before it is dry sprinkle on fine sand.
Indoor-outdoor carpeting is another treatment that would make the area less hazardous. Questions about construction or care of the home may be addressed to Here's How, Copley News Service, P.O. Box 190, San Diego, Calif. 92112-0190. Only questions of general interest can be answered in the column.