Feb 13 2012

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Ironing My Bench

Ironing the bench

As of late, I haven’t been as good about cleaning my bench when I leave my shop. This morning I just had to clean my bench before I could work on anything else. Once I finally saw the top of my bench again, I noticed some pretty deep dents in the top of my bench. It looked like somebody had taken a hammer directly to the top — I blame my daughter. However the dents got there, they were really annoying me, so I decided to try a dent removal trick I’ve seen all over the internet: ironing.

As far as I understand, dents are just compressed wood fibers. By applying heat and water you create steam which expands the fibers, hopefully back to their original position. I’m not sure if it’s expanding the actual fibers, the space between the fibers, or both. In my case the dents seemed to be a combination of compressed fibers and broken fibers, so I wasn’t expecting the results to be perfect. I figured it would be good practice for when I really do need the technique to fix a dent in a project.

My first step was to sprinkle some water over the dents to let the water soak into (and/or between) the fibers. While the water was soaking, I turned my cheap travel iron (my wife would kill me if I used her good iron for something like this) up to “Linens,” its highest setting. Then I dampened a cloth to use between the iron and the workbench so I wouldn’t burn the wood fibers. Once the iron was ready I started moving it slowly over the dents.

After the first pass, the dents seemed to be getting shallower, so I let more water soak into the benchtop and went over the dents again with the iron. I repeated this a few times until I didn’t notice any change in the depth of the dents. It’s hard to see in the pictures, but I made the dents significantly smaller, small enough so that next time I plane down the bench top to flatten it, it’ll be hard to spot the dents.

UPDATE: Check out the picture I added at the end. I went down to my shop tonight and looked at the dents and they look even better.  I’m not sure if it’s because the fibers expanded more over the day, or it’s just the change in coloration now that the dents are dry.

Before and After

New picture!!

After half a day

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