Just like the title says... any way to make this look less bad?


  • Hope you haven't paid yet... start documenting everything (conversations, emails, etc). Mar 29, 2017 at 19:28
  • Thanks.. he's sort of a friend of ours... we will have to work out an arrangement
    – nielsbot
    Mar 29, 2017 at 22:17
  • @nielsbot In that case, If this friend does work for other customers, it is still important to make it clear this type of work is not acceptable for paying customers going forward. Everyone has to learn somehow in this industry. Usually it comes in practice. Mar 30, 2017 at 10:13
  • 1
    What did it look like before he sanded it? What was the purpose of sanding it?
    – Steven
    Mar 30, 2017 at 14:58
  • It actually looked fine. Also, there are the same white marks on some of the solid wood pieces...
    – nielsbot
    Apr 3, 2017 at 19:34

5 Answers 5


Paint it, or pull off the hardwood edges, veneer over it with a new piece of veneer of the same species, and then apply new edges.

Depending on if you have multiple other matching finished end conditions, you could create a new trim detail that covers over the affected areas.

It looks like he face screwed, and then filled the holes with epoxy filler or possibly plugs of some sort, and then did an abysmal job of sanded them flush.

I work for a commercial millwork company, and if one of our installers did something like this, after firing them, we would replace that finished end panel completely.

  • It's too bad--it's expensive plywood.
    – nielsbot
    Mar 29, 2017 at 22:17
  • 2
    How about the filler colour Jacob? I wouldn't find that colour match (or, er, 'match') at all acceptable if I were the client.
    – Graphus
    Apr 5, 2017 at 8:26
  • @Graphus not at all. We have plenty of solutions for concealed fastening, so face nailing/screwing is just out of the question. A lot of shop might do it and then skin over it with a veneer on phenolic backer, but that's still considered lower quality work by most. Apr 5, 2017 at 10:15

One other possible solution is to apply a decorative trim pattern that covers over the screw/blemish locations. I would begin by sanding the entire surface to provide a surface to accept glue and new finish. Then glue and clamp new trim over affected areas using trim in a profile and design that compliments the project's style. You might also use fine gauge finish nails to reinforce the attachment of the trim if there is difficulty clamping it. Clean up any glue squeeze out with a wet cloth immediately. Let it dry, lightly sand and apply new finish.

Oh yeah, finally, I would offer to repair the contractor's furniture using the same techniques used on yours:)


Already proposed re-veneering is a good idea but not easy (removing edges) and veneer is probably difficult to find. My ideas involve some cheating:

  1. Get some artist pencils with suitable colors and try to create missing grain back. Then spray shellac from a can. I am not sure if during finishing area should be horizontal, but that wont hurt for sure. Those darker dowels are probably more difficult to fix than brighter areas.

  2. Make a good photo of veneer from other areas, print and glue into whole area inside edging. Maybe some moisture resistant paper + wood glue or some self adhesive paper?

Good luck, it is not an easy fix.

  • Hey no fair thinking outside the box
    – Benchwerks
    Mar 30, 2017 at 12:38

Just a thought on the cheating side: Might those infills be colored beeswax? If so, might you be able to melt/syphon some of that muck with an iron and a cotton cloth? At least enough to backfill with a more suitable base color. Then you could apply @omark's fix with pencils. We use oils, ourselves, to add grain or knots to minor blemishes. But the operative word is "minor", like a blemish in a library full of panels. I cannot imagine lying on my side for hours fixing your panel - but everyone is different, and that could be an appealing solution. I mean that without a trace of sarcasm - I am always amazed at how things I detest can be found satisfying or beautiful to others.

@Omark's other idea definitely has merit, if you can't find that veneer.


New veneer would definitely be the best solution if possible. You might also consider a laminate you can apply only to the sides on both ends, balancing the piece and making it look like the original design was to do that. Another alternative would be to lacquer over the side panels, though if you've never applied lacquer before be sure to practice on some scrap - it can be hard to get a good finish and you'll want to either sand/fill or remove enough of the patch your contractor applied to restore some amount of grain (any open grain on the wood will show up on the lacquer coats). If it were me, I'd remove the end panels and remake them (sorry!).

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