How to Repair Major Gouges in Wood Tables


A gouge in a wood tabletop is unsightly, no matter how cleverly it is hidden with a lamp or a coaster. To repair such a damaged surface is not complicated but will require some preparation, as well as finishing steps. The repair is not likely to be invisible, but it can be made far less obvious than the original damage.

Things You'll Need

  • Dust cloth, vacuum, detergent, damp cloth Wood filler or putty Putty knife Sandpaper, coarse and fine Polyurethane Artist's brush Very fine steel wool
  • Dust or vacuum the wood surface, or wipe it clean with detergent and water and a damp cloth. Allow it to dry thoroughly.

  • Fill the gouge or damaged portion with wood filler or wood putty in the color of the table, using the putty knife. Allow to dry or harden. Add more putty if necessary until the filler is slightly higher than the table surface. Allow to harden again.

  • Remove any excess putty with medium sandpaper and finish with fine sandpaper until you cannot feel the repair with your fingertips.

  • Apply polyurethane with an artist's brush. Allow to dry thoroughly.

  • Buff with very fine steel wool. Wax or polish the table as usual.

Tips & Warnings

  • Depending on the size of the gouge, materials other than putty can be used to fill the hole. Carpenter's wax sticks are the simplest to use; meltable shellac sticks are more difficult. In either case, the steps to follow are similar. If the material used for filling the gouge does not match, it may be possible to stain it after it is dry and before sealing with polyurethane.

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  • Photo Credit Playing cards on the wood table image by Peter Ivanov from
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