Repair Wood Furniture: How to Steam Out Dents

Level deep dents on flat surfaces of wood furniture with this steam method.

By Jeff Jewitt

Refinishing Furniture Made Simple book cover
Cover courtesy The Taunton Press

Old furniture, whether a family heirloom or consignment shop find, is often better made than anything you can buy today. Transform your old or new-to-you furniture into beautiful, functional pieces with Refinishing Furniture Made Simple (The Taunton Press, 2012) by Jeff Jewitt. The following excerpt shows you how to remove dents that are too large or deep for sanding.

This book can be purchased from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: Refinishing Furniture Made Simple.

How to Steam Out a Dent

Dents that are too large and deep to sand out can usually be steamed level with the surface using a household iron and distilled water. My rule of thumb is that any dent larger than a pencil eraser should be steamed out.

water on wood surface
Pour a little puddle of distilled water into the dent.

apply damp cloth and iron over water
Put a piece of cotton cloth dampened with distilled water over the dent. Set a household iron to “cotton” (usually one or two steps below the highest setting). Place the iron over the rag and hold it for about 15 seconds.

steam over dented area
Repeat Steps 2 and 3. Several (three to four) applications of heat should swell the dent close to the surface. It’s OK if you don’t make it perfect.

sand entire surface following steam
Sand the entire surface with 100-grit sandpaper to make the dent disappear completely.

More from Refinishing Furniture

Repair Wood Furniture: Dismantle and Reassemble Chairs
Repair Wood Furniture: Regluing a Tabletop

Reprinted with permission from Refinishing Furniture Made Simple by Jeff Jewitt and published by The Taunton Press, 2012. Photographs by Gary Junken. Purchase this book from our store: Refinishing Furniture Made Simple.

Content Tools