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Steaming Mars

wood finishing

by Alan Noel
Professional Wood Finisher

During the coarse of building a project it is very hard to avoid those pesky dents and dings along the way. These have to be addressed before the finishing process can begin to avoid having these flaws staring back at you. The most common of these are mars. These are where the surface has been pressed down but the wood fibers have not been scratched or torn, leaving the grain intact. Here are eleven tips for removing mars from your project before you start finishing.

  1. Soft woods such as pine steam very fast and easy. Harder woods take more time and effort but good results can be achieved with patience.
  2. Check all surfaces for mars in good lighting and mark each one with a pencil.
  3. Using a small cloths iron on high, flood the mar with water and use the tip of the iron to "boil" the water thereby creating steam.
  4. Gently, using the tip of the iron, run the iron along the mar forcing the steam into the mar.
  5. To avoid burns always keep the area WET while steaming. We use spray bottles.
  6. After steaming check to see if the mar has risen level with the surrounding area.
  7. Repeat as necessary to level the surface.
  8. For long mars use a soaking wet rag placed over the mar and place the entire iron onto the surface and remove the iron when the steaming slows down. Repeat as necessary then move on.
  9. After all is done, use the hot iron to dry the entire surface that has been steamed moving fast as to not burn the wood fibers.
  10. Let dry for a few hours then fine sand entire surface.
  11. Create mars on scrap and practice with these first.

Visiting Atlanta? Attend one of Alan's upcoming highly informative Highland Woodworking wood finishing seminars:

December 8   Secrets of the Scott Antique Show

December 12   Finishing the Finish

December 19   French Polish Workshop

January 16   Finishing the Finish

January 23   French Polish Workshop

January 30   Wood Coloring Basics

Visit Highland Woodworking's Online
Wood Finishing Supplies Department

Alan can be reached directly via email c/o Alan Noel Furniture Refinishing at .

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