How to Remove Burn Marks on Wood

Pieces of wood around your home, shop, or garage can be inadvertently burned through regular wear and tear, whether it’s furniture, paneling, a tabletop, or a wooden toy. While there’s no way to repair a piece of wood that’s completely turned to ash, you can get minor burn marks off of wood relatively easily. If you’re working with a section of hardwood—e.g., flooring from ash, oak, or beech trees—your best bet will be to sand or scrape out the burned wood before patching the spot with epoxy.

EditSteps
EditRepairing Surface Burns
Purchase fine steel wool to remove the burned surface. The steel wool method works best with small, shallow burns such as from cigarette ash. Visit a local hardware store and purchase the finest steel wool they sell. Steel wool with a ranking of 0000 (the finest) is ideal. If you can’t find steel wool in a hardware store, check in a local home-improvement store.[1]
Unlike sandpaper, lower numbers of steel wool are finer, but “fine” steel wools are marked with different numbers of zeroes. For example, 000 steel wool is “extra fine,” and 00 is “fine.”

Dampen the piece of fine steel wool with mineral oil. Before setting the steel wool against the wood, pour about of mineral oil over the wool. This will lubricate the tendrils of the steel wool and prevent them from scratching the wood.[2]
Purchase mineral oil at any hardware store or home-improvement store. If you don’t have mineral oil on hand, you could use another non-drying oil like lemon oil.

Scrub the dampened steel wool back and forth across the burn marks. Hold the steel wool in 1 hand, and rub it in a single direction on top of the burn mark in your hardwood. Rub along the grain of the wood, not across it (or you’ll risk damaging the wood further). After 10-12 passes, you’ll notice that the burn mark has lightened substantially.[3]
Keep rubbing with the steel wool until the burn is gone.

Blot the oily area dry with a damp clean cloth. Once the burn mark has been erased, pick up a clean scrap of cotton cloth and run a little tap water over it. You want the cloth to be lightly damp, so wring out as much water as you can. Don’t rub back and forth across the wood, but lightly press the cloth down onto the oily surface to soak up the oil left behind by the steel wool.[4]
If the cloth is too wet, you’ll end up leaving a water stain on the wood.

You shouldn’t need to apply any kind of furniture polish when you’re just dealing with a minor burn mark. In nearly all cases, the oil will be enough to seal the area.

EditFixing Deeper Burns
Scrape off deeper burn marks using the blade of a utility knife. The only way to remove burn marks deeper than about is to scrape out the burned wood itself. Take a utility knife and drag the edge of the blade over the burn to remove the damaged wood. Work in short strokes and make sure you’re following along the wood grain, not cutting across it.[5]
Purchase a utility knife (and spare blades if you like) at a hardware store. Some stationary or office-supply stores may also sell them.

Smooth out the damaged area with fine-grained sandpaper. If the wood surrounding the burn wasn’t damaged when you scraped out the burn, you should be able to even out the surface of the wood with sandpaper. Sand along the wood grain (not across it) using back and forth motions until the groove (where the burn used to be) has been smoothed out.[6]
Local hardware stores will sell sandpaper. Choose fine sandpaper with a number around 360 or 400. (When working with sandpaper, higher numbers indicate finer grain.)

Brush off the leftover wood shavings with a damp rag. When you’ve finished scraping away the burn mark and sanding the surface of the wood, you’ll be left with a small pile of wood shavings. To remove them from the wood, dampen a rag and rub it along the surface of the wood to remove the shavings.[7]
It’s important that the rag you use is lightly damp. Otherwise, you’ll just end up pushing the shavings around.

Apply a layer of tung oil to the wood to restore its color. You can purchase tung oil at a paint-supply store or a home-improvement store. Dip a piece of clean cloth into the tung oil and rub it over the formerly burned section of wood. Work in strokes about long, and be sure to apply the oil along the wood grain, not across it. [8]
Depending on the color of the wood you’re repairing, you can also try using a linseed oil. The two oils are similar, and the only major difference is that linseed oil yellows over time.

This will work to your advantage, though, if the wood you’re repairing has yellow tones.

Let the oil soak into the wood overnight. Since tung oil (and linseed oil) is nondrying, it will take several hours to absorb into the hardwood and harden in place fully. So, follow the directions provided on the tung oil’s packaging regarding, as some tung-oil manufacturers may ask you to wipe off the oil rather than letting it soak into the wood.[9]
If you’re dealing with hardwood flooring and have kids or pets in your home, keep them away from the oily floor until it’s dry.

Fill the divot with wood epoxy until it’s flush with the rest of the flooring. Wood epoxy contains a number of chemical components that should be mixed together following the manufacturer’s instructions. Once the epoxy has reached a putty-like consistency, use a spackle knife to press the epoxy into the hardwood hole where the burn mark used to be.[10]
Let the epoxy dry overnight, or for 6-8 hours. During this time, be sure to keep any wandering children or curious animals away from the epoxy.

You should have no problem finding an assortment of wood epoxies at a local hardware store or home-improvement store.

Sand the epoxy flush with the flooring using coarse sandpaper. A sheet of 80-grit sandpaper would work well for this step. Rub the sandpaper back and forth several times across the dried epoxy until you’ve smoothed it down to the same level as the surrounding flooring. Be careful to avoid sanding too much on the hardwood flooring itself. You don’t want to scuff up the undamaged wood accidentally.[11]
Once you’re finished with the 80 grit, if you like, try sanding again with 120-grit sandpaper to ensure that the epoxy is smooth.

Stain or paint the filled burn mark to match the color of your flooring. Use stain or paint based on whether the surrounding flooring has been painted or stained (in most cases, hardwood will need to be stained). Dip a paintbrush into the stain (or paint), and apply a smooth coat across the area you’ve repaired. Give the stain (or paint) at least 4-5 hours to dry, and apply a second layer if the new layer is darker than the rest of the flooring.[12]
If you’re unsure of the exact color of your flooring, you can test out sample paint or stain colors before using them. Test the material on a small, out-of-the-way corner of the flooring.

EditRemoving Burns on Dark Wood
Mix together a thick paste of baking soda and water. If you’re dealing with a burn on a dark wood surface, the burn itself is most likely white in color. To remove the burn mark, combine about 1 tsp (0.3 g) of baking soda and of water in a small bowl. Use 1 finger (or a spoon if you prefer) to mix the 2 ingredients together until they form a thick paste.[13]
Keep the consistency of the paste dry. If you add too much water to the mixture, you’ll end up giving the wood surface a water stain!

Buff the paste into the burn with a clean cloth. Scoop up a small dab of the thick baking soda paste with the corner of a scrap of clean cotton cloth. Rub the paste into the light-colored wood burn to gradually darken the color of the burn and eventually remove the burn mark altogether.[14]
If a single dab of paste isn’t enough to remove the burn mark, apply 2 or even 3 more dabs of the paste.

Apply a furniture polish to the restored surface of the wood. Spray a commercial wood polish onto a second scrap of clean cloth. Then, rub the polish into the surface of the wood. This will remove the gritty baking-soda paste and help the restored patch match the rest of the wood. Wipe along the grain of the wood, and apply the polish in smooth strokes, each about long.[15]
If you don’t already have a furniture polish on hand, purchase some at a local hardware store.

EditThings You’ll Need
EditRepairing Shallow Burns in Hardwood
Stain-removal pad

Mineral oil

Steel wool

Clean cloth

Water

EditFixing Deeper Hardwood Burns
Utility knife

Fine sandpaper

Damp rag

Clean cloth

Tung oil

Wood epoxy

Spackle knife

80-grit sandpaper

120-grit sandpaper

Paint or stain

paintbrush

EditRemoving Burns on Dark Wood
Baking soda

Water

Bowl

Cotton cloth

Spoon

Furniture polish

EditTips
Steel wools with ratings of, for example, 3 and 4 are considered “coarse” and “extra coarse,” respectively.[16]
EditReferences
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Today in History for 2nd May 2019

Historical Events

1808 – Uprising against French occupation begins in Madrid
1928 – KPQ-AM in Wenatchee WA begins radio transmissions
1936 – 62nd Kentucky Derby: Ira Hanford aboard Bold Venture wins in 2:03.6
1980 – Joseph Doherty and 3 other IRA men arrested for murder
1993 – “5 Guys Named Moe” closes at Eugene O’Neill Theater NYC after 445 performances
2013 – 100 people are killed by the Syrian Army in a raid on al-Bayda, Baniyas

More Historical Events »

Famous Birthdays

1768 – Jean-Louis-Marc Alibert, French dermatologist, born in Villefranche-de-Rouergue, Aveyron, France (d. 1837)
1901 – Willi Bredel, German writer, born in Hamburg (d. 1964)
1915 – Margaret “Peggy” Mount, British actress (Oliver!, Panic in the Parlor), born in Southend-On-Sea, Essex, England (d. 2001)
1945 – Bianca Jagger, Nicaraguan model and socialite who married Mike Jagger, born in Managua, Nicaragua
1945 – Judge Dread, English reggae musician, born in Kent, England (d. 1998)
1986 – James Kirk, Canadian actor (She’s the Man), born in Vancouver, British Columbia

More Famous Birthdays »

Famous Deaths

373 – Athanasius, Patriarch of Alexandria (b. 298)
1937 – Arthur Somervell, English composer, dies at 73
1945 – Joe Corbett, American baseball player, dies at 69
1963 – Tomas Vackar, composer, dies at 17
1969 – Franz JHMM von Papen, German chancellor (1932), dies at 89
2018 – Wang Danfeng, Chinese actress, dies at 93

More Famous Deaths »

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How to Pack Without Wrinkling Clothes

Opening your suitcase or duffel bag and finding your clothes wrinkled is a real bummer! Fortunately, there are several solutions to this common problem. You can try using packing folders, garment bags, or even tissue paper to keep your clothes wrinkle-free. You can also bring a spritz or steamer with you on the road to get rid of wrinkles in a snap!

EditSteps
EditFolding Your Clothes to Keep Wrinkles Out
Bring packing folders with you to keep nice clothes from crumpling. Packing folders are hand-held, briefcase-like bags that are perfect for keeping delicate tops, button-up shirts, pants, and dresses from crumpling up. An packing folder, which is the main size the product is sold in, can fit 8-12 items of clothing. All you need to do is fold your clothes like you normally would and stack them on top of each other. Then, close up the packing folder to compress the clothes.[1]
Packing folder are flat enough to fit inside luggage, so try and fit them in your suitcase if you can.

You can purchase packing folders online.

Use garment bags to fold your clothes just once. Garment bags are incredibly convenient because all you have to do is place the clothes you want to pack on hangers, store them in the garment bag, zip up the bag, and fold the bag to fit it in your suitcase. Since you’re only folding the clothes once and securing them within the garment bag, you’ll avoid creases and wrinkles. A garment bag is also incredibly easy to unpack![2]
One downside to garment bags is that it’s tough to fit them in carry-on luggage if you’re flying. The smallest width for garment bags is about , which is too long for carry-on suitcases. If you don’t want to check bags in when you get to the airport, go with the packing folder method instead.

Wrap your clothes in a bundle to fit bulky items in your suitcase. Bundle wrapping is a bit more time-consuming than other packing methods but well worth it to keep wrinkles and creases away. First, ball up 2 pairs of socks into a shirt, place them in the middle of the shirt, and fold the shirt over the socks to create a “core” that goes in the middle of the bundle. Then, lay out a long-sleeve shirt and place it face down with the arms at the sides. Take your next shirt and lay it face up, making sure the bottom of the shirt is facing the opposite direction of the bottom of the first long-sleeve shirt. Make sure to overlap the arms of the shirts. [3]
Next, take your heavier items, like jackets and button-up shirts, and place them directly over the original long-sleeve shirts.

Finally, lay your pants down horizontally, followed by your shirts and shorts vertically. Take the “core” you folded earlier, put it in the middle of the pile and start wrapping the clothes around the core one-by-one.

Make sure not to overpack. This technique works best if you only pack the essentials.

You will have to unpack all of your clothes every time, so this method might not be the best if you’re on a fast-paced trip or one that lasts only a few days.

Fold your clothes in tissue paper to reduce wrinkles. Place a sheet of tissue paper inside the sleeves of long shirts and jackets before you fold those items. Then, line your suitcase with tissue paper and place more tissue paper between each layer of clothing.[4]
Putting tissue paper in between and inside of clothes reduces wrinkles because the slippery texture of the paper lowers the friction on the fabric.

Cover your clothes in plastic wrap to separate them from one another. Plastic wrap works the same as tissue paper in the sense that it reduces friction between clothes and keeps wrinkles away. Place a sheet of plastic wrap that covers the length and width of your suitcase in between each layer of clothing. If you plan on packing nice clothes that were just recently dry cleaned, don’t unwrap them, just lay them in your suitcase as is.[5]
Be sure to use plastic zippered bags for shoes and toiletries. This keeps them separate from your clothes and lessens the risk of your clothes getting damaged if you’re flying.

EditGetting Wrinkles out of Packed Clothes
Pack fabrics that don’t wrinkle easily. Generally speaking, clothes that have a little bit of stretch don’t wrinkle as much. To test your fabrics, give them a scrunch and pack them in a suitcase for a few hours to see how they hold up to wrinkles.[6]
There are clothing brands that specialize in making travel clothes which use wrinkle-resistant fabrics. The downside to these clothes is that many of these fabrics can’t be steamed or ironed if they do get wrinkled.

Take a wrinkle-free spritz with you to keep clothes fresh. If you’re taking a plane, these spritzes come in travel sizes which are TSA-approved and can fit in your carry-on luggage. Not only do they release wrinkles, but they get rid of odors as well. When you unpack, spritz each item of clothing lightly and let them sit for about 20 minutes before wearing them.[7]
You can purchase these spritzes at your local drug or department store or order a bottle online.

Bring a hand-held steamer with you to instantly freshen clothes. These steamers are perfect for suits, blouses, and delicate dresses. They are small enough to fit in your carry-on luggage if you’re flying and can get rid of wrinkles in no time. When you unpack, hang up the clothes you want to steam and run the steamer up-and-down the clothing 2-3 times. Be sure to keep the steamer at least away from the clothes, as you don’t want to damage what you’ve packed.[8]
One reason a hand-held steamer is such a good travel buddy is because you never know how good the irons will be in hotel rooms. The quality of the irons could vary greatly depending on where you’re staying, so bring a steamer with you to ensure you’re getting the same results every time.

Hang your clothes in the bathroom while you shower to get the wrinkles out. If you don’t have a steamer or spritz handy and need to get wrinkles out of your clothes, hang your clothes in the bathroom and take a hot shower. In just a few minutes, the steam from the shower will get rid of the wrinkles in your clothes.[9]
If you’re traveling to a humid, tropical destination, you can hang up your clothes outside. The humidity will loosen up the wrinkles. Just make sure the weather will be nice for the next few hours if you decide to do this!

Travel lightly to give your clothes room to breathe. Take only the clothes you truly need when you go to pack everything. Overpacking can not only wrinkle and crease clothing, but the clothes can also start to smell if they’re sitting in a suitcase for many hours.[10]
One way to determine if you’ve packed too much: bundle wrapping. If you cannot wrap your clothes in a bundle and fit them in your suitcase, you’ve packed too much clothing.

EditReferences
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