I recently purchased a beautiful office desk made from a soft wood. Before I could set up proper safeguards, my son laid down a piece of paper and went to writing -- and pressed all of his words into the wood top through the paper. !!!! What can I do?

  • Sand it smooth and refinish?
    – mikeazo
    Aug 28, 2017 at 19:03
  • +1 on the moisture + heat recommendation in the Answer provided. But note that this will generally work only if the wood is bare, it tends not to work if there is a finish present (most especially a good varnish or lacquer, which are nearly completely waterproof). So unfortunately you will have to strip the top to get this to work as well as it should, and anyway you do usually have to sand a bit to blend in the raised dents so you'd have to be down to bare wood anyway.
    – Graphus
    Aug 29, 2017 at 8:38
  • 2
    There is an alternative of course and that's live with them — since the top is this soft it will soon pick up more dents and scrapes from use! These will blend in and give the top a more consistent overall texture in time which will become part of the natural look of the thing. However, if you're planning on going with a desk-saver/blotter to prevent further damage you can probably skip the repair work entirely since one of those will cover what's already happened.
    – Graphus
    Aug 29, 2017 at 8:39

1 Answer 1


Depending on how damaged the wood fibers are, you might be able to salvage at least some of it by dampening the area and heating it to swell the fibers. This is commonly done with a wet cloth and hot iron. Use the cleanest cloth and water you can (DI/distilled if possible). Lay the cloth on the wood, then press it with a hot iron. Check your progress every couple seconds, and don't let the cloth dry out - you dont want to discolor anything by burning. It may or may not work, but it's worth a try. You might have to lightly sand the area with ultra fine sandpaper when you'd done (320+ grit) as the water may raise the grain (but first let the area dry out completely and then assess).

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