Millwork Touch-up and Repair

A visitor seeks advice on how to get training in the fine art of fixing faults. February 26, 2005

Does anyone have suggestions on the best way of learning the art of millwork touchup? I employ great finish carpenters to do installs of high-end pre-finished materials, but always hire a local finish guy to do a final once-over of the project just before turnover. We are a traveling installation company and would rather have someone in-house for that particular aspect of the job. Do you know of any finishing schools or classes I might enroll a couple of guys in?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor D:
Dakota County Tech College in Minnesota might have a class designed for what you are looking for. If you have a supplier of Konig Touch-up Products in your area, they have a couple of videos available.

From contributor B:
Go to for the classes mentioned above.

From contributor S:
For touchup classes, you should send someone to the Mohawk workshops. They do not need the workshop on leather repair. Contact for details.

Then, that same person should attend a Konig workshop. These are often given at Piano Technicians Guild conventions. Contact for details.

No offense to Dakota County Technical College, but a touchup person does not need a full-blown refinishing course. He needs to learn burn-ins (the Mohawk method and the Konig method, and these methods differ greatly in tools, materials and procedures), proper uses of putty sticks, proper uses of Bondo-type materials and/or epoxy putty sticks, how to fix crush marks, how to spot color, how to in-paint, finger color, use graining pencils, use PrismaColor pencils, spot spraying, sheen adjustments, etc.

In addition to learning how to approach each type of repair and each type of area needing to be addressed, that person must learn the full gamut of Mohawk products as well as Konig products. Only that way can a questionable defect be assessed and a repair course plotted.

Just be aware that the touchup supply companies teach methods using a flat sample of wood, while in the real world the damages and defects are done to curves, shapes, corners and sometimes flat locations.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for your input! I checked out the sites you recommended and found them all to be very helpful. Will no doubt enroll a couple of my guys in the upcoming workshops for Mohawk and Konig. This will definitely benefit my company to better serve the client. It will allow me to consistently provide a great finished product with a well-informed professional staff without having to rely on someone I'm not familiar with. I won't have to check references, or have them fit me into their schedule.

From contributor S:
Until your people do their workshops, you should be contacting the Furniture Repair Hotline to arrange for the touchups. Repair firms who are registered with the Hotline all have liability insurance. It costs you nothing to have them refer a technician to you.

That's one thing. Another is that at some point your touchup people ought to be reading this message board and posting questions here. My opinion is that every single touchup, every single defect and every single damage is unique. The only constants are how we technicians adapt our tools, materials and techniques to each repair. One guy may use wax crayon, another may use putty, another may use bondo, another may use either the wax burn-in sticks or the hard resin burn-in sticks. These are just methods of filling. Then there is how each of us might go about leveling that fill flush with the surface or shaping that fill to repair a once-crisp edge or corner. And so on.

From contributor D:
You all are right. The reason I mentioned DCTC is that I took one block of the classes offered. I didn't take the full blown program. I think a person is able to only take what he or she needs. At least that is how it worked for me. I would contact DCTC and talk to Mitch to see if he has any specialized training or blocks of classes that your guys can attend. I know it helped me in color matching, which is the portion of the course I took.

From contributor R:
I'm with the above post. Once you have attended the Mohawk and Konig classes, you have just gotten the very basics of touchup skills. Both of those classes are good, but only deal with their own products. The real world is very much different and many other methods are required using the materials that your products are finished with. Posting on boards like this one are good ways to get insights into different techniques. Also, if you hire a quality touch-up man, send your guys with him or her to help. The on-job experience is the best teacher.