Repairing Badly Damaged Furniture

I work for a furniture wholesale business where most of our merchandise is shipped from overseas. Recently, one of the shipments that we received was very badly damaged. The wood filling had all popped out from the pieces, and there are cracks along all the adjoining edges. (They are solid wood pieces and this is probably due to the humidity/temperature changes during the transport here to the U.S.) We do not have any other choice than fixing it the best we can, since shipping it back is not an option. However, just by filling the holes with putty we cannot get it to look natural. Our customers have been rejecting them all. Are there any other options or tricks that you can share with us?

Michael Dresdner: It is rare to be able to putty a void and have it look like wood. Instead, use putty matched to the LIGHTEST color of the background wood, then touch up the area by adding darker grain lines and tints to match. Unlike putty, which is a uniform color, wood is actually a plethora of colors, which our eye blends at a distance to look like one tone. The mechanism is similar to the way we view rotogravure printing. Look closely at the color comics page: each color is made up of tiny dots of three primary tints, but our eye blends the dots into a range of uniform, familiar colors far beyond what inks the printer buys. Think of that as you do your touchup, and you will be heading on the right track.

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