Cigarette burns - any fixes?

On several pieces of furniture my Mom left to the family, there are scattered cigarette burns. Some are small, but there are some about two inches long by a quarter-inch wide. I don't know the finish (does it matter?) but the wood is walnut. This is really nice stuff and it kinda makes me sick to see that it was abused and neglected this way. Is there any way to fix it, or should we just try to cover and hide the burn marks as best we can?
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rec.woodworking:

There's no easy answer.
First, determine whether the pieces have any value as antiques. If you mess around with them, you decrease the value.
The "best" solution is to remove the finish on the top by sanding or with chemical strippers, sand through the burn, and apply a new finish. This is a significant job.
When I was a repair dude working for a low-end furniture store, we used a variety of stains, markers, wax crayons, and shellac sticks to conceal flaws like this. In bad cases, we'd make them look like knots. The whole effort was then sanded smooth and sprayed with lacquer. This is OK for cheapo furniture, but I wouldn't do it on good stuff.
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Steve B.
New Life Home Improvement
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How so? I suspect you're falling for the Antiques Roadshow trap. Sure, a refurbished piece is worth less than a pristine piece that was untouched by humans and light for two hundred years. But we're not dealing with a pristine piece. This item is damaged. If it is old and potentially valuable, then get it professionally appraised. That person should be able to steer you in the right direction WRT to refurbishing it.
Jeff
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Jeff wrote:

It's also worth less than an otherwise identical piece in reasonably good condition that was in daily use for 200 years.

It is? All that was mentioned was discoloration due to cigarettes. While some would consider that to be "damage", others consider it to be "character". If that burn had been there for 200 years would you still consider it to be "damage" that needs to be "repaired"?

Or whether it should be "refurbished" at all beyond normal cleaning.
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wrote:

Sanding and refinishing: It's a lot of work.
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On several pieces of furniture my Mom left to the family, there are scattered cigarette burns. Some are small, but there are some about two inches long by a quarter-inch wide. I don't know the finish (does it matter?) but the wood is walnut. This is really nice stuff and it kinda makes me sick to see that it was abused and neglected this way. Is there any way to fix it, or should we just try to cover and hide the burn marks as best we can?
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This may sound like an evil thing to do but why not smooth it out and use
some of that fabulous walnut veneer you have over the top of it?
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No, not evil. I don't know if I'm good enough to do something like that. Two of the pieces are end tables, about 2' square. They're of fairly basic design, but some of the highest quality furniture I've ever seen. I don't know the mfgr. Next to my lack of ability (or maybe just lack of confidance), is the lack of equipment to do something like this. *However* you've given me an idea: make a decorative cover from the veneer. It need not be permenently attached to cover up all the marks. Gotta look at the pieces again to see if this would work.
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Smaug Ichorfang wrote:

Suggestion. Look all over them for a manufacturer's mark--if they're that good there's very likely such a mark somewhere. If they're still in business contact them for advice.
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