how to restore scratched and worn wood

Every time I look through a Pottery Barn catalog, I always find myself scrutinizing the details.  Noticing how and what is staged in their photos, regardless of whether or not it is an item for sale!

Lately, I have been loving the wood boxes that they show in a room or shelving display- it adds warmth and a sense of groundedness to the space.

Not too long ago, I came across this wood box.
I loved that it had a hinged lock, aged brass handles on the side, and a simple, functional shape.

It looked terrible with all the scratches and huge watermark on the lid.

It didn't faze me one bit.

You can easily buff out stuff like this, and it is simple and inexpensive to do.

There are a few products out there- I used Old English. 
It's readily available in most stores where they sell cleaning supplies.

 I first tried it out on our coffee table in our family room.  

After I cleaned the surface dirt off of the box, I used a clean rag to dab the Old English onto the scratches and watermark.

Once those were covered,
I went over the entire surface of the box again, and then buffed it with a new clean rag.

It's hard to see where the flaws were, huh?

It took me all of 2 minutes to restore this little guy.
Old English comes in a light and dark stain, I used the dark for this restoration and for our coffee table.

Does this have you looking at thrift shop items differently?
Maybe next time you won't pass on something because it seems like too much work!

I wrote this post out of my own accord.  
No one from the company has ever contacted me to write a post on their product.
I really like it, and wanted to let you in on one of my DIY secrets!

Have a great Thursday!

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Wow Us Wednesday


  1. Great tip! I would have been sanding that thing all day long... how awesome to know there's a shortcut! :)


  2. I'm a shortcut girl! ;) I avoid sanding whenever possible! LOL!

  3. I've been using Howards Retore A Finish. It has two steps, though. Apply the refinsiher and then wax. I will have to try Old English. I am sure much less expensive and seems easier!

  4. Easy peasy...gotta love Old English!!

  5. Well I am so excited about this tip that I just shared your post with 3 other people :) I will remember this as I have recently become obsessed with buying/decorating cigar boxes.

    Thanks so much for sharing!

  6. Thanks for sharing that secret. Good to know. I now remember my mom had Old English around...

  7. Denise I love using Old English! Your antique box looks great!

  8. Wow, Great effect and great preparation:))

  9. Great tip! I'll have to remember this one when thrifting!

  10. I use this all the time. Mostly to freshen baseboards-they do get scuffed and it makes them look brand new. I just love it.

  11. I have used Old English scratch cover for years. It is a miracle working product! Thanks for sharing! It looks great!!

  12. This is a great tip! I will pin it! Julia

  13. Finally! Someone else is singing the praises of this product. I've used it to age painted furniture as well. People forget about it and it has a lot of uses!

  14. I have used Old English for many more years than I am willing to admit and one trick that I have learned with the two shades of OE is this: with a dark blonde on into reddish shades of finish, if you apply the light OE first to see if it will take the water ring out and restore the natural color of the finish, you can always go over it with dark OE if the finish is still too light. It is always easier to darken a too light finish touch up than it is to lighten a too dark touch up. You have applied the dark finish first and it has left the water ring in what is probably close to a walnut finish which won't lighten up easily.

    There are also some very fine patinated and fine tinting waxes being manufactured by Liberon in the UK. Their Black Bison wax is a layering type wax which will darken by degrees when you apply additional layers to the wood you are touching up. They come in 150 ml cans and a variety of colors from black ranging through all the red brown and blonde wood tones, I have one can in front of me as I type that is a Medium Oak finish and I have restored many old clock cases with these waxes along with OE when I feel the need. I came across them years ago when I was a professional picture framer and had to touch up scars and wear marks in old frames brought to me for restoration. Good luck in your antique quest!!


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