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My children made a dent gouge on the living room table:

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The dent gouge is about 3-4 cm long (~2.5 in), the brown coating in the dent gouge is a weak attempt of the children to hide their misdemeanour. The missing piece is gone.

What is a good way to repair this:

  • for someone who is not a DIYer (so sophisticated woodwork is out of my league, though normal day to day DIY is OK)
  • and the fix does not need to be extraordinary, anything which will improve the aesthetics is fine

I live in France so I would be grateful for generic product names (I often see some names like "Rubber-o-Matic (TM) you can get at Walmart" which will not help), or a Castorama-compatible name :)

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If there's actual wood missing, "dent" isn't the correct term -- this is a "gouge". The only way to fix it is to replace the missing wood.

Repairing a Gouge in Wood

What I'd recommend is a wood filler (even in France, you should be able to get those at do-it-yourself retailers). Hopefully what the kids put in the gouge wasn't waxy or oily; if it's just something like marker (rather than crayon), you can just fill the gouge with wood filler, apply a marker or scratch hider (which is pretty much a wood-colored crayon -- they come in a lot of shades so you can match your wood), and let it all dry.

If the coloring in the gouge is crayon or something oily, you'll need to take off a layer of wood to remove the color and leave bare wood, or the wood filler won't adhere. Then proceed as above -- following the directions on the package of wood filler you buy.

Fixing a Dent in Wood

If it were just a dent (wood compressed instead of missing), you could likely repair it by poking a number holes with a sewing needle, soaking water into the wood, covering it with a damp cloth or paper towel, and heating with a clothing iron or soldering iron. The heat will soften the wood enough to let the steam formed (from the water that's soaked in via the holes) expand the crushed grain, restoring most of the lost volume. Then, if needed, you'd finish with a wood filler, but the less of that you need, generally, the better.

Another option is to do what my parents did after I (at age 4) rode my tricycle into the coffee table my dad made in a college shop class: leave the gouge and tell everyone who noticed the story of how it was my fault. By the time I was 7, I'd gotten so tired of hearing that story that I'd become much more careful of the furniture...

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  • hmmm... I did similar with a wardrobe door at age 2. I'm sure my parents kept it, un-mended, for the next 30 years just so I'd always think about it. – Tetsujin May 2 '17 at 11:32
  • Thank you for the very throughout answer. I was about to go for some epoxy resin and I am glad you suggested wood fillers. And yes, this was crayon. And yes, they were punished hanging head down for 3 hours (or told not to do it anymore, I cannot remember) - but it was not entirely their fault so I will repair the table the way you suggested. Thank you again. – WoJ May 2 '17 at 14:20
  • A putty-type epoxy product would work, but once hardened it's difficult to color and reshape (sand, carve, etc.). Some wood fillers are epoxy based. – Zeiss Ikon May 2 '17 at 14:52

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