There are many levels of touch up that can be used on any specific blemish. When the gloss level is low, the problem is simply in
the finish, and there is no indentation, gouge or void in the actual surface, the least expensive solution is to just color the area with a special marker so that the damage doesn't jump out at you. These markers
are usually available in Home Centers in light, medium and dark for the Do-It-Yourselfer. We have hundreds of colors and lots of experience. This enables us to do a much more accurate color match and blending job.
This kind of "Touch Up" can be quite satisfactory in those situations.
Minor nicks and dings can sometimes be filled with a colored wax stick. The next level of "Touch Up" is called a burn-in.
A solid stick of colored lacquer is melted into the area. It then has to be smoothed out and the whole surface rubbed out. This approach addresses level, color and gloss. The repair is much less noticeable, but can
still be seen from certain angles.
The next, more expensive approach, usually used in areas of where chunks are missing, is to fill the area with an epoxy putty. The
area then has to be sanded, opening a larger wound in the finish. This area then has to be colored, blending into the surrounding areas. A finish (gloss level) then has to be applied. Lastly, if the wound is large,
or in a location where filler would not adhere well or be strong enough, a new piece of wood would be spliced in. Sanding, color blending and finish would be required.
Obviously, when anything but the color only approach is used, it doesn't take a very great number of individual blemishes requiring
touch up before the costs can start approaching that of stripping and refinishing. Stripping and refinishing is, of course, the most comprehensive, effective and expensive blemish correction solution. The rule of
thumb usually sought in cases of "Touch Up" is that the repair will not be noticeable to the casual observer. Anyone who knows it is there however, will be able to find it if they look for it.