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Wood furniture demands regular care, such as cleaning and polishing, but every now and then an accident will occur that requires some first aid.

Homer Formby, a leading authority on the care and refinishing of fine furniture, has been answering consumer questions for nearly 20 years. Following are some of the most frequently asked questions concerning damage to wood furniture:How do you remove water rings?

White rings on furniture come from moisture trapped under a wax surface. To remove the ring, squeeze toothpaste (any kind will do) on a damp cotton cloth. Rub the toothpaste lightly into the ring and it will buff away the white. If the ring is stubborn, mix the toothpaste with baking soda, and the two buffers should remove the ring. Buff lightly with a clean, dry cloth.

How do you repair cigarette burns?

Dip a cotton swab into a bottle of clear fingernail polish remover. Rub lightly across the burn and it will dissolve. If any of the black residue is left, scrape it lightly with a pen knife until the discoloration is removed. There is usually a slight hollow left. Mix equal amounts of clear fingernail polish and fingernail polish remover. Apply a layer with a nail polish brush until the hollow is filled. It'll take about seven to eight layers.

How do you cover up scratches?

Select a wax or liquid shoe polish (not dye) that matches the color of the wood. Apply with a cotton swab. You may want to add several coats or mix several colors to obtain the best match. Then buff the entire area.

What can I do about dents in the furniture?

Choose a crayon that matches the color of the wood. Melt the crayon into the dent, overfilling it. To melt the crayon use a soldering iron or tie a nail to a pencil, then heat the nail over a candle flame and hold the nail to the crayon. Let the wax cool for 30 minutes, then shave off the excess with a credit card, leaving a smooth surface. If you don't like the color, reverse the process by liquifying the wax with a heated nail and blotting it out with a dry cloth.

How can you prevent drawers from sticking?

Remove the drawer and rub paraffin on the runners - a white candle will do the trick. Also, put lemon oil into a spray bottle. Empty and remove the drawers and lightly spray inside and outside. This keeps drawers from absorbing moisture in the air.

What's the best thing to remember about wood?

The life and beauty of wood depends on its oil content. Central heating, light, changes in humidity can all rob oil from wood. Oil your wood pieces about once or twice a month with lemon oil furniture treatment to keep them fresh. It will also preserve the finish and keep the wood from splitting, cracking and breaking.