How to Repair Scratches in Mango Wood: A Simple Guide

Accidents happen. It’s a fact of life. And that scratch you discovered on your prized Mango wood table seemed to appear out of nowhere. 

Now you don’t necessarily want to go through the trouble and expense of refinishing your entire table. So is there a simple solution for the scratches instead?

The answer to that question depends on the type of finish and the depth of the scratch on your Mango wood table. But the good news is that there are various techniques for repairing scratches and almost all of them are simple enough for you to perform.

How to repair scratches in Mango wood: a simple guide. Repairing scratches on Mango wood is easy using a few simple steps.  

  • Identify the type of finish on the Mango wood
  • Determine the depth of the damage to the Mango wood
  • Use the appropriate method to repair the damage to the Mango wood

While this may sound complicated, it is an easy process once you understand the basics.  This simple guide will help you navigate through the steps of repairing scratches in Mango wood.

Understanding Mango Wood

Before you start to repair any damage to wood furniture, you must understand a bit about the wood with which you are working.  Each species of wood has characteristics that can affect the way you approach any repair.

Mango trees are known for their fruit rather than wood. However, Mango wood has been cultivated and used in Asia for generations. Mango trees typically produce fruit for fifteen years. Then as the Mango fruit production starts to dwindle the trees develop the heartwood prized for furniture and other kinds of wood projects.

Mango wood is considered a hardwood and has a dense and attractive look. This density makes Mango wood very durable, which is a prized attribute for furniture.  The grain of the wood also tends to darken with age. Even though Mango wood is dense and durable, it is relatively easy to work with using woodworking tools.

With colors ranging from golden brown to almost black, Mango wood offers a variety of looks that woodworkers and furniture makers seek. Mango’s popularity also gets high marks because it is an eco-friendly source of hardwood, grows fast, and is readily available.

Items made from Mango receive finishes like any other hardwood project.  Perhaps, the most common finish for Mango furniture is an oil finish.  Some older pieces may be lacquered or shellacked. Shellac isn’t seen as much in newer pieces because the lacquer or shellac tends to darken or yellow with age and that could affect the overall appearance of the furniture.

Some Mango wood furniture may get an extra coat of polyurethane or urethane. These high gloss finishes make the furniture surfaces more resistant to stains and spills, and provide another level of durability for high use locations.

Repairing Damage to Mango Wood

Repairing a damaged surface on Mango wood furniture is not a complicated process, but it does require some understanding of how different finishes on the wood can be damaged and how to repair it.  

You should understand that any repair to a piece of wood, no matter the species or the variety of wood, the fix is probably never going to be completely invisible. Matching colors, wood grain, and patina are more of an art than a science. Even the most experienced professional refinishers have trouble matching color and grain.

Surface Scratches

The most common damage seen on any furniture, not just Mango wood, are surface scratches. These imperfections are usually small and don’t go below the finish. Surface scratches are the normal result of everyday use of furniture. It is normal to see surface scratches in the legs, arms of chairs, and table surfaces.  

If you look at the surface on the furniture that is scratched or damaged, you should be able to ascertain quickly if the damage is surface scratches or something deeper. Look at the damage from an oblique angle with a strong light coming from the side. Surface scratches will seem to disappear at this angle. If there is no discoloration apparent, then the scratches are surface damage and you can use one of the remedies listed below to repair the damage. 

Before you proceed with repairing surface scratches, you must first determine the type of finish used on the surface needing repair. Determine if the finish applied to the Mango wood is wax, a urethane-based finish, lacquer, shellac, or an oil finish.

Waxed Surfaces

Repairing surface scratches on waxed Mango wood is the simplest of all.  Over time, wax builds up in layers as the new wax is applied to the Mango wood to refresh the look and wood patina. More than likely, the surface damage only affects those layers of wax. Before you begin, you will need some supplies. Gather the following.

  • The same kind of wax that has been used on the Mango wood previously. Some of the more common finishes include paste wax or commercial furniture wax. Using the same product will yield better results.
  •  Use a soft lint-free cloth to apply the wax

The steps for repairing surface scratches on a waxed Mango wood surface are almost as easy as dusting your furniture. If your Mango wood piece has a wax finish, follow these steps.

  • Clean the surface of the Mango wood in the area where the scratches appear. You must remove any dust or other surface contaminants before you start because dust can cause unexpected outcomes.
  • Moisten the lint-free cloth with wax. If using a paste wax, wrap a portion of the lint-free cloth over your finger and rub your finger lightly over the surface of the paste wax to work the wax into the cloth.
  • Apply the wax to the damaged surface of the Mango wood using a circular motion. As you work over the surface scratches, you should notice the damage begins to disappear as the wax fills in the damaged areas.  After the wax dries, the scratches should become harder to see.
  • Let the wax dry and look at the damaged area again. If there are any visible marks left, repeat the process. If the layers of wax are deep, it may take more than one application to fill in the scratches.

Polyurethane or Urethane Finishes

Mango wood finished with a polyurethane or urethane product requires a different approach. The urethane-based finishes leave a much thicker and harder layer that adheres to the wood surface. It isn’t possible to apply a coat of urethane-based finish to fill the scratches. Doing so could leave an uneven surface.

Identifying a urethane-based finish is relatively easy. Looking at the surface of the wood, you should be able to see the scratches from almost any angle.  You may feel the scratches with a fingertip. The edges of the scratches may appear ragged and broken where the finish has flaked away.

Repairing surface scratches on a urethane-based finish is a bit more involved than a wax finish. But it should be well within the capability of most home do-it-yourselfers. You just need some special equipment before you start:

  • 600 grit wet/dry sandpaper. Most hardware stores or home improvement centers sell wet/dry sandpaper. If you cannot find wet/dry sandpaper at these locations, try an automotive paint retailer.
  • Water
  • 0000 Steel wool.  Steel wool is also available at almost any hardware store, home improvement center, or paint retailer.
  • A lint-free cloth
  • Paste wax

The technique of repairing surface scratches in Mango wood that has a urethane-based finish is simple, but is more labor intense than repairing wax finishes.  The idea is to carefully sand the urethane-based finish to remove the scratches and then apply a paste wax to bring back the shine on the finish. The steps for repairing surface scratches in a urethane-based finish are:

  • Moisten the wet/dry sandpaper with water. The water helps to remove the particles of the urethane-based finish as you sand. It is important to remove these sanded particles or they could add more scratches to the finish. 
  • You should only sand in the direction of the scratches. Don’t sand across the scratches.  
  • Be careful not to over-sand the scratches. If you over-sand the area of the scratches, you could reach the actual wood surface and remove the protection of the urethane-based finish.
  • When the scratches have disappeared, apply a coat of paste wax using the lint-free cloth as described in the section on repairing waxed finishes.
  • Once you have applied a coat of paste wax, use the #000 steel wool to lightly burnish the area of the scratches to bring back the natural shine of the finish. Rub the steel wool lightly and carefully on the surface as it is an abrasive and can remove more of the finish if you rub too hard.

Shellac or Lacquer Finishes

Shellac is a natural material used as a wood finish. It is usually sold as flakes and mixed with alcohol, colored, and brushed on prepared wood.  Lacquer is like shellac but uses different solvents to dissolve the finish material. Lacquer comes pre-mixed and ready to use. When the solvent evaporates, it leaves a hard finish on the wood that is considered one of the best wood preservatives available.

Identifying a shellac finish can be difficult. Shellac finishes can have the shine of urethane-based finishes or the deep luster of a wax or oil finish.  One sure way to test for a shellac finish, is to use a cotton swab dampened with alcohol and gently touch an unseen section or underside surface of the wood. If the finish is shellac, it will soften as the alcohol dissolves the shellac.

Use the same sort of test for a lacquer finish, but use lacquer thinner or fingernail polish remover on an unseen section or underside surface of the wood. Take care not to use too much, and if using lacquer thinner or fingernail polish remover, read the labels and follow all the precautions.

You will need the following items to successfully repair surface scratches in Mango wood with shellac or lacquer finishes.

  • If the finish is shellac, you will need rubbing alcohol.
  • For lacquer finishes, you can use lacquer thinner or fingernail polish.  Lacquer thinner is available at hardware stores, home improvement centers, or paint retailers. Fingernail polish is an acetone-based solvent. You can purchase acetone at the same places that you get lacquer thinner.
  • CAUTION: If you are using lacquer-thinner or acetone, read and follow the label warning and instructions. Both products are extremely flammable and can pose certain health risks as well.
  • A small fine bristle brush.  

Repairing scratches in a shellac or lacquer finish requires a bit of skill and some patience. Trying to rush the process can make things worse. Follow these steps and take your time to repair scratches in shellac or lacquer finishes on Mango wood.

  • Clean the area of the scratches thoroughly.  Any dust or other contaminants on the surface can become part of the finish
  • Moisten the brush by dipping it in the solvent appropriate for the finish. Don’t try to load the brush with too much solvent. The idea is just to apply enough solvent to soften the shellac or lacquer.
  • The solvent will soften the finish. As the finish softens, it should start to flow and fill in the scratches on the surface of the finish. Exercise patience here. It may take several minutes for the softened finish to flow out. Don’t be tempted to apply more solvent too quickly. If you over soften the finish, it will run off the area causing color differences in the finish.
  • Once the scratches have disappeared, allow the wood to sit for at least 24 hours. The finish will take time to dry. If there are still visible scratches, redo the steps listed above.

Deeper Scratches

You may find that the scratch or damage to your Mango wood goes deeper than the surface finish and penetrates the fibers of the wood. Deeper scratches are the more challenging repairs. Deep scratches usually leave a color difference on the surface of the wood. To repair deep scratches, you must recolor the wood to match the rest of the finish.

There are several ways to approach this kind of repair. Some use items normally found in the home. There are also commercial products available made, especially for this task.

Preparing to repair deeper scratches using items from around the home may sound a little strange. The list of material that you can use or may need include:

  • A coloring agent, dye, or stain such as:
    • Show polish or shoe dye. There are many shades and colors of shoe dye or polish on the market. Often you can make a match for the finish on your Mago wood easily using one of these products.
    • Permanent Markers, colored pencils, or crayons work to color deep scratches in Mango wood. Visiting a craft store or an office supply store can yield a surprising array of color matches.  
    • Wood stain is another option. Wood stains come in a variety of colors. If you are skilled enough, you can mix different stains to create custom colors that may match the finish on your Mango wood more closely.
  • A small paintbrush
  • Cotton swabs
  • Furniture wax or paste wax

Matching colors to repair a deep scratch in Mango wood is often a system of trial and error. Once you have your dye or stain ready and matched to your wood, you should follow the steps below to complete the repair of the deep scratches in your Mango wood.

  • To use shoe polish or shoe dye, moisten a cotton swab with the polish or dye and gently apply the colorant to the scratches. If the colorant goes on too heavily, wipe away any excess. You can reapply the dye or polish if the color is not dark enough.
  • Use permanent markers to carefully touch up the scratch. Quickly wipe away any excess before it has time to dry.
  • Colored pencils and crayons can be rubbed along the scratch to push the material into the scratch.
  • When using wood stain, follow the manufacturer’s label directions.  Instead of brushing on as if you were covering a wide area, use a cotton swab to apply the stain only on the scratches. Wipe away any excess that may accumulate.
  • If the color is still not quite right, repeat the steps above until you get the color match that you want. Remember, you can always get a darker color by applying more coats.
  • One the scratch is colored to your satisfaction, use the paste wax or furniture polish to restore the shine and luster to your Mango wood.

Let the Repairs Begin!

We hope these tips and tricks help you successfully repair the scratches and nicks in your Mango wood furniture. Scratches can occur over the long life of the “well-loved” furniture in our homes. These simple tips will help keep your Mango wood furniture well cared for and in good condition. And if you ever feel like you need professional assistance to repair or refinish your furniture, please give us a call in Hilo, (808) 959-4060.

Please come and view our one of kind furniture collection and evolving list of services at www.rkwoodshawaii.com.

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