How to Fix a Damaged Piece of Furniture

Now that I’m on the road to recovery from my last stint with the One Room Challenge, I thought I’d take a moment and share how I transformed my daughter’s nightstand.  The key takeaway here is that a beat up piece of furniture that cause others to walk away, is your ticket to a great piece for a great deal.  Today I will share a step-by-step guide on how to fix damaged furniture and make it look new again! This post contains some affiliate links.

How to Repair Damage Furniture

The Victim: A Damaged Table

At first glance, this piece looks fine, right?  I love the look of it, and was quite tempted to keep it for myself, quite honestly.

How to repair broken wood furniture

But, the top was a mess, and probably a deal-breaker for most shoppers.  This is where you can put your skills to use and repair damaged furniture, while getting it for a steal in the process.

How to repair damaged wood finish

Most people look at a piece like this and think, “How do I fix a damaged piece of furniture like this?  Sure, it’s a great deal, but the top is covered with scratches.  How do I refinish it and make it new again?”

How to get scratches out of wood

When I told the saleslady at Ballard Designs Outlet that I would take it, she gave me an even deeper discount, calling it the “taking it off my hands” discount.  So you can imagine that many pieces like this are simply looked over altogether.

I got this nightstand for $50.  Do you know what the retail price is?  $699, people.  For real.  Here is a link to the Isabella Nightstand so you can see for yourself.

Outlet stores can be a great source for deals if you’re willing to do the work to fix them.  Most people shopping in outlets aren’t going in with the intent to do furniture repair.  Here’s how to fix a piece of damaged furniture like this.

The Solution for Fixing Damaged Furniture

My favorite product for repairing a piece like this is Minwax High Performance Wood Filler.


I feel like I should clarify that this stuff is heavy duty.  It’s not your standard issue wood filler.  It hardens like real wood and isn’t something that is easily sanded smooth – you’ll need some additional tools to get your final finished look.  But don’t panic, it’s not that difficult.

It’s not shown in the photo above, but the Minwax High Performance Wood Filler comes with a smaller tube of hardener that is mixed together with the filler product.  This is what gives this product its gusto.  The caveat is that you have to work quickly because it will harden and then become unusable.  So don’t mix too much together so you don’t have any go to waste.

Once you have the wood filler mixed, you apply it to the area that requires repair.  I lay it on rather thick, especially in an area that is as damaged as this one was.  Just remember, it gets ugly before it gets pretty.

How do I get scratches out of my wood table?


How do you refurbish furniture?
There were a lot of scratches and dings on the top of the nightstand as well, so I used the Minwax filler product to repair them also.
How to fix damaged wood table top

From here, you wait until the wood filler hardens.  With a repair like this one, you need to give it a little time to fully cure.  Once it does, you get to work at smoothing and leveling it out.  For that, you’ll need a planing tool get it smooth.  This is the one that I use:


It’s kind of like a cheese grater in the way that it’s made.  You’ll want to run this over the area that you have applied the wood filler and essentially file it down until it’s relatively smooth.  From there, you can use a power sander to smooth it further.

This is what the nightstand looked like after a first pass:

spot refinishing wood furniture


How to fix damaged furniture

It’s an improvement, but it still needs more work.  Repeat the process with the wood filler, planing and sanding it smooth. 

Once I went through the process a second time, I got it to this point.  Much better.

How to repair damaged wood furniture

Almost level:

How to repair wood furniture

The Minwax High Performance Wood Filler is also great for repairing veneer.  I used it on one of the drawers in this desk makeover.

How to repair damaged veneer

I couldn’t even tell you which drawer it is in the finished product.

How to refurbish furniture
How to refinish damaged furniture

From here, I primed my piece of furniture, since I’ve found that repairs like this tend to bleed through paint.  (I’ve found that painting desks and tables upside down makes it easier to paint the legs)

How to refinish furniture

Then I remembered that this was an oak nightstand, and the grain was showing big time.

How to fix damaged furniture

I have found that Faux Effects Master Finishing Medium does the trick to fill the grain (and I’ve tried several).  I used it on the top and sides of the nightstand, as well as some grainy spots on the front, and you can see how well it hides the grain.

How to fix damaged wood furniture
How to fix damaged wood furniture

From there, I did my first coat of Velvet Finishes paint in Exotic.

How to repair wood furniture scratches

Once dry, I painted the framed area on the drawers in a 1:1 mix of Vivid and Ethereal.

How to repair wood furniture

I know, at this point, you’re thinking, “this is a little circus-y isn’t it?  Well, that’s what I was thinking.  I think a lot of it had to do with the setting out in the garage.  But once I got this piece in my daughter’s room, I breathed a sigh of relief.  It’s perfect when you put it in context.

The Finished Look

How to refurbish wood furniture
How to refurbish damaged furniture
How to refurbish wood furniture

And that beat up corner – hello pretty!

How to Repair a Damaged Piece of Furniture

Here you can see the top of the nightstand and how it’s smooth and virtually flawless now that it’s repaired.  You’d never guess by looking at it that it started out as such a damaged piece of furniture.


How to fix scratched furniture


How to fix damaged furniture


How to fix damaged table top
How to Fix a Damaged Piece of Furniture

So there you have it!  I still have to put a coat of poly on this piece, but I wanted to be sure the color was right before I put the poly coat on it.  It’s good, so I’ll poly soon.

Don’t be intimidated by a damaged piece of furniture that is in need of repair – that’s where you get the best deals and can make the most money if you’re looking to refurbish them for a profit.




  • Reply
    Lisa @ Shine Your Light
    November 16, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    Jenny I am SO thrilled you wrote this post – I was going to ask you to share whatever you did to fix this nightstand! The repair came out so perfectly and I can't wait to try it on one of my kids' dressers that mysteriously has a big chunk missing out of one of the drawer corners. Thanks so much for this tutorial!

  • Reply
    Vel Criste
    November 16, 2015 at 8:06 pm

    Amazing! I never thought wood filler can do that much! I also love the colors you chose for that beautiful nightstand!

  • Reply
    Debbie Hoffman
    November 16, 2015 at 11:45 pm

    Aaaaaaamazing! What a fantastic job you did and the room turned out just perfect! I know you have one happy girl!

  • Reply
    November 16, 2015 at 11:56 pm

    It appears that you sprayed the Velvet Finishes? I was under the impression that VF gave such a smooth finish that you didn't need to spray it. Is it best when sprayed?
    Thanks for the tip on the planer. It will be on my Christmas wish list.

  • Reply
    August 8, 2016 at 8:14 pm

    Hi can u use stain with the wood filler instead of paint? Thank u .

  • Reply
    March 14, 2017 at 10:38 am

    That came out great. I have a question please. What would you recommend a piece of damaged pressed wood? Yeah not the best but my son wants that dresser for his daughters. Rain came in the garage and was just wondering if there a way to docter it up. Look forward to hearing from you….PATRICIA

    • Reply
      March 14, 2017 at 11:21 am

      Absolutely – this stuff is great for those sorts of repairs. 🙂

  • Reply
    July 24, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    I m ALWAYS AMAZED at your talent….thank you

    • Reply
      July 25, 2017 at 3:08 pm

      You are too kind Rosie. Thank you. 🙂

  • Reply
    July 24, 2017 at 4:38 pm

    Thanks for sharing Jenny. I have used traditional wood filler for smaller jobs, but good to know this product will work for larger issues.

  • Reply
    July 31, 2017 at 7:43 pm

    OMG, $700.00 for a nightstand table, that’s crazy. No way will I ever spend that kind of money even if I had it. However, you for sure got a steal, and did a fabulous job! Thank you for sharing.

  • Reply
    August 3, 2017 at 10:58 am

    So pretty! Do you have sources for any of the bedding as well?

    • Reply
      August 3, 2017 at 11:51 am

      The duvet was from TJ Maxx, and most of the pillows are from either TJ Maxx or PB Outlet. The throw blanket is also from PB Outlet.

    Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.