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attempt, it's probably a gouge.

Filling gouges is a much simpler process. Use a commercial wood putty (either solvent-based or water-based) or make your own filler by mixing some fine sawdust with glue, epoxy, or even shellac. Press the putty into the gouge with a putty knife or an artist's palette knife, leaving it slightly raised from the surface. Let the putty dry (you'll know it's ready when you can't make a depression in it with your thumbnail), then sand it flush with the surrounding wood.

It's not always possible to find the exact color of commercial putty you need, but you can make a custom-col-orcd putty by mixing two or more colors together or by adding some touch-up powders. (For sources, see AW -28.) Store your custom-colored putty in a small jar with a tight lid; baby food jars work well for me.

If the putty becomes dry or crumbly in the container, add a few drops of the appropriate solvent to restore it to a workable consistency.

Smoothing the Surface

Once you've repaired the defects, the next step is to make the surface uniformly smooth so it will accept stains and finishes evenly. Uniformity is critical. You can use a plane, a scraper or sandpaper—or some combination of these—as long as you use-only one of them to produce the final surface. Further, if you choose sandpaper, it's important to sand your entire project to the same grit. If you don't, the coarser surfaces will appear duller under a clear finish and

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Before sanding and finishing. repair dent* by steaming tliem with a hot iron and a damp rag . Fill gouge« and deep scratches with wood putty (ahove right k then sand the putty (lush uilh the surface.

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