Cleaning oil and grease from Wood - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 10-16-2018, 12:54 PM Thread Starter
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Cleaning oil and grease from Wood

I was given a wonderful old wooden toolbox from a friend. It was her father's and is quite old. He was a farmer. The inside bottom is very greasy and oily. I tried using Dawn dish soap - several times - and kitty litter. It took a lot off but it still remains very greasy. I would love to use it but it is too dirty.
Any suggestions as to how I can get it cleaner? I saw suggestions of degreasers but I don't know how those will work on unsealed wood.
Thank you so much for any suggestions.
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post #2 of 12 Old 10-16-2018, 01:22 PM
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mineral spirits
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post #3 of 12 Old 10-16-2018, 04:42 PM
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If it were me I would use paint and varnish remover. Still as long as it's been used nothing is going to remove what is deeply penetrated into the wood. The best you can hope for is to cut the oil from the surface.
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post #4 of 12 Old 10-16-2018, 05:36 PM
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to preserve the the love that that box has seen
over the years, "I would" just slosh some automotive
degreaser around in it just to remove the surface film.
rinse and dry in the sun and fresh air,
then, fill it full of tools and use it - as it was intended to be used.
if you want it to look new and unused, go build one out of
pallet wood or old barn wood just like it.
and put the antique box on a shelf.
and if you hear the Spirit of the Old Man that made the box say,
"How DARE You clean my box" !!! you better listen to the voice.
jus my Dos Centavos

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there is no educational alternative to having a front row seat in the School of Hard Knocks.

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post #5 of 12 Old 10-16-2018, 07:02 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks, John Smith!
I don't want it to look new and unused. I actually love antiques and I want it to look old and well loved.
I would just like to display it in my home and I would prefer that it not stain something that I set it on or items I might put in it. I could use it for my tools but I think it deserves to be preserved at this point. :)

(Also, the friend who gave it to me passed away from cancer and this gift means a lot to me.)

If I managed to take the worst of it off, could it possibly be sealed so that the deeply ingrained oils and grease that I cannot get out are trapped?
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post #6 of 12 Old 10-17-2018, 01:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Smith_inFL View Post
"I would" just slosh some automotive
degreaser around in it just to remove the surface film.
aka mineral spirits
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post #7 of 12 Old 10-17-2018, 03:48 PM
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Maybe spray it down with a can of carburetor cleaner. That stuff will dissolve anything.
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post #8 of 12 Old 10-18-2018, 02:47 PM
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You can use a chemistry lab process called "solvent partition." Stupidly simple and safe.
The wood already has a layer of oily crap, some of it soaked in to an unknown depth.
So, the best you can do is really a surface clean of oil/dirt/dust.


You wash the crud with another oil.
You wash all of that out with hot soapy water.



Wipe down all the dirty surfaces with vegetable oil. This mixes with the existing oily crap.
Let it sit for a couple of hours. A little scrubbing will not hurt.


Wash that with a really harsh detergent and hot water. Clothes washing detergent in a bucket of very hot water.
What happens is that the veg oil will dissolve in the hot soapy water, carrying the crap with it.
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post #9 of 12 Old 10-25-2018, 04:37 AM
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Apply a small amount of turpentine to the corner of a white cloth. Turpentine is a common solvent that can be useful for cleaning oily build up on surfaces.This method will work on all kinds of wood furniture or surfaces that have built up hand oils and dirt, such as cabinets, doors and door frames.
Avoid using abrasives like hard brushes or baking soda, as they can damage the finish of the furniture.
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post #10 of 12 Old 10-25-2018, 09:29 AM
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My advice is do the best you can and use it. I would not but any kind of top coat on it. It will not stick and look worse.
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Don in Murfreesboro, TN.
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post #11 of 12 Old 10-25-2018, 05:59 PM
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Get all the crud out of the corners and go down to the local oil change place and talk them into saving you a gallon of diesel oil from a oil change and cover it with that let it set in the sun to dry


Then it will look all the same LOL


Okay I was just kidding, but I have used over cleaner to cut oily greasy wood, and soon as it is dry top coat, the box I did that on lasted for 3 years I know of, my ex wife took it which suited me fine
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post #12 of 12 Old 11-22-2018, 12:11 PM
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Try this

I've used a mixture of mineral spirits and dishwashing soap on concrete floors and it works well. The mineral spirits dissolve grease and stains while the soap holds it in suspension while you wash it away with water. I haven't tried it on wood, but it should work.
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