MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK: Fixing your own furniture

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Repairing furniture is a frugal alternative to replacing it, but professional restoration can be expensive. Here are a few easy ways you can do it yourself for less.

When it comes to dents and scratches on furniture, the depth of the wound determines what you use to fix it.

For surface scratches, use the appropriate colored wood marker. When I bought it, I took the drawer into the store to make sure it matched.

If the ding is deeper, use a wood-filling crayon. Rub it back and forth until the scratch is filled, then do the same with a rag to remove the excess.

A four-year-old with a toy took a chunk out of the table. Stainable wood filler will level it out. When the filler dries, sand it so that it's flat. Typically, you'd want to stain it to match, but I found the wood marker blended the color well. Not perfect, but it looks a lot better.

The worst-looking piece in my house is my bedroom side table. It has years of damage from cups without coasters. First, I have to sand it with 180 grit sandpaper to get the finish off. Warning - this will take at least half an hour. All that dust and dirt has to be cleaned with mineral spirits and a damp cloth. Then another sanding with 220 grit and another dose of mineral spirits.

When the surface dries, you can stain. Stain likes to be stirred, not shaken. Bubbles wreak havoc on liquid stain. You'll want at least two coats of stain and two coats of poly urethane - I used a new disposable brush for each coat. This is the best this table's looked in years.

One project you should leave to the professionals: damaged veneer. It's difficult to match and apply.

In the end, it was much cheaper for me to fix these pieces myself. The total cost: $50. Repairs to the side table alone would have cost around $200.

Condensation from drinks causes white, cloudy rings to show on wood surfaces. To get those off, wipe them with petroleum jelly or a baking soda and water mix.

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