How to Restore the Beauty of Mahogany Furniture


Mahogany is one of my favorite woods with its deep, rich auburn tone and fine-lined grain.  It’s not only expensive yet beautiful wood, but mahogany furniture is a valuable piece of furniture if you’re lucky enough to own one. Unless you have you piece located in a seldom-used formal living room, this wood can take a lot of abuse. Wet glasses leave rings, plus scratches, dents and divots may occur from everyday use, and then there is the normal wear and tear to the edges of this beautiful furniture.

Many superficial damages are easy to fix and should be taken care of immediately. However, if you’re fortunate enough to acquire a well-used piece of mahogany furniture, you may need to refurbish it completely. If you’re the handy-person type and feel comfortable with refinishing furniture, here are some guidelines for a few of the tools and supplies that you’ll need to get it looking like new again. Most importantly, patience is the name of the game when tackling a mahogany restoration project.


You can pick up these supplies at any local hardware or big box store, such as mild dish detergent or Murphy’s Oil Soap. You will also need denatured alcohol, touch-up markers, wax sticks, 0000 steel wool, 600-grit sandpaper, paste wax, and clean rags. If you plan on stripping and re-staining the furniture, add chemical stripper, scraper, steel wool, and stain.

Repairing Scratches, Chips, and Water Stains:

You should clean the furniture first before beginning repairs. You want to remove all of the oil, grease, wax, or polish buildups. Once cleaned, you should repair the water rings first, then the minor scratches in the surface or deeper scratches and finally any visible nicks or dings.

Water Stains:

To get rid of the white water rings that appear, wipe them with denatured alcohol to remove them, but be careful in doing this because too much alcohol can dull the finish. If this does happen by mistake, rub the area with super-fine 0000 steel wool pad and paste wax to restore the sheen.

Shallow Scratches and Worn Edges:

Felt-tip markers are ideal for these problems, and they come in a variety of wood tones to match any project. You can colour in scratches and edges where the stain has worn away, making sure to use them only on damaged areas. When you’re finished, apply a coat of paste wax over the areas as well as adjacent surfaces to make sure the shine is even.

Shallow Chips:IMG_8878

If the clear finish has been chipped but the underlying colour is unharmed, use a few drops of clear nail polish to fill the chipped area. After the polish is completely dry, sand it with 600-grit sandpaper until it is flush and apply paste wax to bring back the shine.

Deep Scratches, Nicks, and Dings:

A deep scratch or gouge can be repaired and smoothed out by lightly sanding with 600-grit sandpaper. Next, rub wax over the scratch or ding using a wax stick until it is overfilled. Remove the excess wax with the edge of a credit card so that its level. Apply paste wax over the repair and polish until it shines.


Refinishing Mahogany Furniture:

In the event that you need to strip and refinish the mahogany, apply a chemical stripper to the area to be refinished. Follow the directions for amount of time to leave on for lifting the old residue and then use a scraper to remove the softened stain. You can also use steel wool to remove the stain from round edges and difficult to reach spots. Follow this up with a chemical cleaner and thoroughly wipe down. Check the piece for any other imperfections and repair as required.


For best results, use an oil-based stain to provide superior protection over time.  Follow the instructions for applications using a cheese cloth, rag or brush in thin, even coats. Be sure to let each coat of stain to dry thoroughly before applying the next coat. The last step in the process is to apply a varnish with a soft brush following the manufacturer’s instructions and allow it to dry.


After completing all of these steps, you will have a piece of furniture that is not only a thing of beauty, but a treasured piece of heritage that has been given the opportunity to live another life.



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