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If your workshop is tight for space, like mine, you might find that your projects can take a bit of a battering before they are complete. Knocks from banging into tools and machinery can take their toll. However, if the wood fibres aren't broken, dings and dents are easy to fix.


dented corner
What happens when you dent a piece of timber is that he wood cells get compressed. You can ‘plump them up’ again by infusing them with hot water and steam. In the same way that wood expands when the humidity rises, you can engineer localised expansion by the application of water and heat.

I deliberately dented the corner of the dovetail joint I showed earlier on in this article. This would have been a nasty piece of damage - imagine your crisp dovetailed drawer falling from the workbench to the floor. You wouldn't be happy.

If you have been lucky enough only to have compressed the timber, using a damp cloth and a hot iron can recover the situation. I keep an old domestic iron in the workshop as a regular part of the toolkit, just for these jobs.

ironing out dents ironing out dents repaired corner
Repairing a corner dent.
The result was a much crisper corner joint, though it wasn't perfect as there had been some disruption of the fibres in dropping the piece on the hard concrete workshop floor. Nonetheless, the end result was much better than the starting position and I could have lived with it.