Woodworking Talk banner

1 - 20 of 22 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I bought a nice walnut table off someone for cheap as a project and it has this nasty stain on it that I'm quite sure is alcohol. I was stripping down and refinishing it as a project anyway, hoping that would solve it, but the alcohol had gone through the finish and stained the bare wood. It should have been obvious earlier since the area was extremely dried out even before i took the finish off. Sanding didn't get it out, nor did mineral spirits or a host of other home remedies I found online. I haven't tried many chemicals yet, I've never bleached before and was wondering if that was an option, or if I should try something else.

Any help/advice would be greatly appreciated! Still new at this...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,023 Posts
I bought a nice walnut table off someone for cheap as a project and it has this nasty stain on it that I'm quite sure is alcohol. I was stripping down and refinishing it as a project anyway, hoping that would solve it, but the alcohol had gone through the finish and stained the bare wood. It should have been obvious earlier since the area was extremely dried out even before i took the finish off. Sanding didn't get it out, nor did mineral spirits or a host of other home remedies I found online. I haven't tried many chemicals yet, I've never bleached before and was wondering if that was an option, or if I should try something else.

Any help/advice would be greatly appreciated! Still new at this...
POST SOME PICS AND LET'S SEE WHAT WE CAN COME UP WITH OK?:smile:
 

·
Old School
Joined
·
24,027 Posts

I bought a nice walnut table off someone for cheap as a project and it has this nasty stain on it that I'm quite sure is alcohol. I was stripping down and refinishing it as a project anyway, hoping that would solve it, but the alcohol had gone through the finish and stained the bare wood. It should have been obvious earlier since the area was extremely dried out even before i took the finish off. Sanding didn't get it out, nor did mineral spirits or a host of other home remedies I found online. I haven't tried many chemicals yet, I've never bleached before and was wondering if that was an option, or if I should try something else.
Is the field plywood or solid wood?






.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,023 Posts
well...The book-matched pattern would be indicative of veneer for the center and i would stick with that as an indicator of such, better to be safe than sorry. If the bottom is clear, you can also just look and see if the same pattern is like the top, if not then it's definitely veneer, normally only the face is done in such manner.

Since Alcohol can attack a alcohol soluble dye in the wood i won't completely rule that out as the cause, but i will say that no alcohol damage i have seen would leave the mark as such. Normally if alcohol were to attack the dye it would leave a darker edge on the utmost boundaries of the stain, and i see no evidence of that, the edges look as light as the rest.

To me, and this is just an educated guess, something such as a cloth material was laid upon it for an extended period of time, maybe a cloth belt from a bathrobe etc., That i can't determine, could have been just a long strip of cloth. Since there is also no clue as to why, or what is was being used for if anything, especially so carelessly, it may have been the work of a child.

whatever it was had to have been pretty wet so as to affected the damage so quickly without drying out and or the finish itself in poor condition to allow the liquid to pass through to the wood. Maybe in this instance, the stain is a type of bleach itself. Without being there to test, that could not easily be determined.

The only thing i can offer is chemical assistance as to trying to give a uniform look to the wood in order of lightning the entire surface, but again with no guarantee of the final results. If by chance it is a bleach that has caused the mark, further bleaching will most likely continue to lighten the area more so than the rest, and the difference in color between them remain. Both being lighter in color, but with the same contrast of light and darkness.

In this case also normal household bleach or even a stronger sodium hypochlorite bleach such as used in swimming pools [5 vs 25%] would not do it, the available nascent oxygen not being enough to produce a like affect as seen on the damage as it exist in the pics. Though it may help blend it in better than as it exist now.

2 part bleaches [AB - 1/2 ] will definitely work as to making the top look even lighter than the damaged area, but also will completely hide the natural beauty of the walnut in doing so.

The other problem is not having a sample to at least experiment on to determine what would be best in this case. running test on the surface itself may do more harm than good, sticky situation here.

With this all in mind, i would suggest that you keep sanding the area as well as the rest of the top to keep it staying uniform, with all due caution to not sand through the veneer and create yet another problem. With this, it would be good to know your finishing abilities as they stand and if your capable or know how to touch up and blend if variances in color?

If you can, that would be the best suggestion. Sand as much as you can, re-apply the desired stain/dye, seal / sand lightly with 320 or 400, re-apply clear and with an artist brush and stain color blend in as well as possible, let dry and re-seal once again. note the look and either continue the color repair if necessary or apply your final coat.

Note: always keep in mind that when applying the same stain you use on the bare wood, that when sealed will not give the same color and will need small adjustments.

Other ways can work , i will leave that to others to reply back to you ok?
 

·
Rick Mosher
Joined
·
1,010 Posts
I agree with chemmy to continue sanding. However carefully watch the wood veneer while sanding and if there is a sudden change in color, stop! You could be going through the veneer into the substrate. Don't try and convince yourself that further sanding will get the dark mark out, it will only get bigger as you sand away more of the veneer.

One way to see what this looks like is to do it on the bottom of your table where it won't show so you know what to expect. Also don't sand in just the area where the discoloration is or you will not have a flat surface when you are done. You will sand in a dip. So you have to feather sand the entire top as you go until you go as far as you can.

When you have gone to the point where you are about to go through the veneer then you are done and must touch up the rest as chemmy suggested above.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Thanks so much! Unfortunately my touchup skills are pretty rookie, although I do have a range of brush sizes. The sanding makes sense, as does the application of stain, then sand, then clear coat. However, I'm unsure of the touchup step. Would I not be using the stain itself? Something else?

You guys are awesome!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,023 Posts
Also, how do I make those "small adjustments" in color required once the first coat is sealed?

KAS, before we go any farther, let
s see how much can be sanded out ok? I'm hoping there is enough room to maybe get rid of all or most of it "hopefully"
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,023 Posts
Rick: "One way to see what this looks like is to do it on the bottom of your table where it won't show so you know what to expect. Also don't sand in just the area where the discoloration is or you will not have a flat surface when you are done. You will sand in a dip. So you have to feather sand the entire top as you go until you go as far as you can".

To add to Rick's above comment further, so less of a chance of a sanding mistake is made, "always keep your sander flat on the surface" to many new to sanding tend to want to angle the edge of the sander to remove damage, meaning tilting the sander up on it's edge to a degree from it's normal position of being flat, which is how it should always be used!! This will always cause a dip in the wood as Rick is mentioning, and in the long run could look worse than the damaged trying to be removed to begin with. And also keep in mind what he states about not just sanding that damaged area more than the rest, if you spend a few minutes on the damage then spend that much time per the same amount of area on the rest of the top also. :yes:

A further note is this: when i'm doing something like this i normally use what is called an "Indicator" coat of fast dry lacquer, in this case i would spray a light coat of spray can lacquer [Krylon black] on the entire surface and let dry for 1/2 hour or more, and then again with sander always flat use 220 paper to remove all the black from the surface, which should only take a couple minutes per sanded area at most if sprayed correctly. This will show up any dips or other indentations etc. that may be still present and let you know for sure that everythig either is, or is not flat and smooth. To get a hang of this, again as Rick suggest, do it on the underside of the top till your comfortable with the results ok?

If anything else comes to mind, i will post it.
 

·
Old School
Joined
·
24,027 Posts
A further note is this: when i'm doing something like this i normally use what is called an "Indicator" coat of fast dry lacquer, in this case i would spray a light wet coat of spray can lacquer [Krylon black] on the entire surface and let dry for 1/2 hour or more, and then again with sander always flat use 220 paper to remove all the black from the surface, which should only take a couple minutes per sanded area at most if sprayed correctly. This will show up any dips or other indentations etc. that may be still present and let you know for sure that everythig either is, or is not flat and smooth. To get a hang of this, again as Rick suggest, do it on the underside of the top till your comfortable with the results ok?
I wouldn't spray black on the area. It's been sanded already, and spraying black as a test surface may not be able to be sanded out. Spraying a test coat is common in doing automotive bodywork, where it's necessary to do several applications to even out a finish. It's not a technique I would use in doing woodwork finishes. With a stain like that with defined edges, the outline may get prominent. To sand it out completely, to get the black out and the stain, may perforate the veneer. My guess is, without being able to get a good eyeball on the area, the black could get into deep pores and if so, your problem takes a change of course.

The stain not only is on the field (which is likely a veneered plywood), it continues to the edge of the table which is a hardwood border. Granted, if all we are talking about is solid wood, then sanding it out would be the most promising fix.

I'm thinking a bleach regimen may be a safer way to go than to risk sanding through the veneer. A common bleach would be oxalic acid, and can be intensified if necessary if dissolved in denatured alcohol. Stronger bleaches, hydrogen peroxide/sodium peroxide may be necessary. If the top can be bleached out, and it can get very light, maybe the stained area will fall into the general field when lightened.
If that happens, then the stained area won't be lighter than the surrounding area, according to the theory that all will get lighter the same.

This is all conjecture, as suggestions for a fix. It would be easier if the cause of the lighter area was known.






.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
26,347 Posts
I've had pretty good luck getting rid of a light spot like that one by spraying the entire top with an alcohol dye stain as close to the original color as possible and then using chemical gloves wash as much as I can get off with methanol and a rag. Usually 90 percent or more of the spot is gone. Then after it's dry I sand it with 220 grit paper and stain and finish the top normally and usually the rest of the spot disappears in the process.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,023 Posts
You can always change the color of the spray brown for example, or even use clear, the idea is to use something that dries "fast" as to not soak into the wood but lay on top of the wood. Krylon meets that need for someone who has no spray equipment or spray experience, and when sprayed from a distance of a foot or so, is almost dry by the time it lands on the wood, your not giving it a saturated application only a light mist, it doesn't even have to be uniform, it can even be speckly, just enough to be able to show surface abnormalities is all.

Indicator coating's have been used long before autos were even a thought. Use of burnt charcoal or ash on wood as such, goes back to Egyptian times. mine is merely a faster method or update of such. Which unlike a car, does not take several or more applications to do so, once is enough, wood is soft metal is not.

The thought of 2 part bleaching was already mentioned, why i thought better of it Kas, is that it will do the trick in all likely hood, but leave you with an unnatural white look to the wood which would not easily be blended in by someone new to wood finishing or staining or other color use such as glazing ,toning, shading.

Even if you sand and bleach the whole table, it will never look like the natural wood color you have now. A pro could do so, but that is not the case here. thus my mention of it and decision not to offer it as "the" solution. Let's continue to hope that the stain has not penetrated all the way through the veneer and can hopefully be sanded out to a stage where you can keep the natural color as is ok?

If not, then the field remains wide open for other suggestions for sure.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,023 Posts
I've had pretty good luck getting rid of a light spot like that one by spraying the entire top with an alcohol dye stain as close to the original color as possible and then using chemical gloves wash as much as I can get off with methanol and a rag. Usually 90 percent or more of the spot is gone. Then after it's dry I sand it with 220 grit paper and stain and finish the top normally and usually the rest of the spot disappears in the process.
Definitely worth a try Steve!!!:thumbsup:

You could even go one step further and put a light oil stain over that if some difference still remains to help further if necessary.
 

·
where's my table saw?
Joined
·
27,880 Posts
is it really an alcohol stain?

I would not expect a spilled drink, or even straight alcohol to lighten the wood like that. It seems more like a bleach spill like from toilet bowl cleaner or other such chemical to me... :blink:

Quote:
Alcohol stain on bare wood
I bought a nice walnut table off someone for cheap as a project and it has this nasty stain on it that I'm quite sure is alcohol. I was stripping down and refinishing it as a project anyway, hoping that would solve it, but the alcohol had gone through the finish and stained the bare wood. It should have been obvious earlier since the area was extremely dried out even before i took the finish off. Sanding didn't get it out, nor did mineral spirits or a host of other home remedies I found online. I haven't tried many chemicals yet, I've never bleached before and was wondering if that was an option, or if I should try something else.

So, I'm wondering if you tried alcohol? If it were originally an alcohol stain, you would expect the entire surface if flooded with alcohol to lighten, or just your test spot.... :blink:

Just me, but I think a chemical solution, literally, rather than a mechanical process is the better answer because of the possibility of sanding unevenly and even through the veneer thickness..... :blink:

Bleaching has been mentioned and cautioned since the original dark color may not be obtained. It would seem that if the entire surface was bleached to even out the "stain" an application of a darker alcohol based stain would be able to "redarken" the surface ..... :blink:

Just thinking out loud here.... :blink: bill
 
  • Like
Reactions: kas1118

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,023 Posts
Your absolutely correct Bill, you could A/B bleach it and apply dyes to darken any darkness you wished. Not a problem, the only difference would be is that all the natural character of the wood will be missing, the darks and lights and varying colors anomalies will then be one uniform color, indicative of a un-natural look. When and if your capable of re-applying all the natural occuring elements that are then missing back into the surface, by further use of dyes/pigments/ techiniques and tools it will turn out very close to what was there to begin with.

In this case, i don't think Kas has those abilities to do such. I know for sure me or Rick could and maybe you or others also, but someoene new to finishing? :blink: lot of steps and know-how. even when doing painted faux wood grain techniques.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
287 Posts
Several years ago I took a wood finishing course from a pro refinisher restorer. Left over from the course is this box of powder which is alcohol soluble. By mixing these powders the teacher could make any color and in the case of this stain, he would color it in to match the surrounding instead of trying to sand it out. I also have a set of artists acrylic colors which I mix and thin down into a stain to blend different colors.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,023 Posts
Several years ago I took a wood finishing course from a pro refinisher restorer. Left over from the course is this box of powder which is alcohol soluble. By mixing these powders the teacher could make any color and in the case of this stain, he would color it in to match the surrounding instead of trying to sand it out. I also have a set of artists acrylic colors which I mix and thin down into a stain to blend different colors.
Standard in the business Zircon, he did you a favor. Actually they are known as fresco or earth colors, same thing my dad used and taught me in the 60's. pretty standard back then, but still available today from Mohawk and others. The mineral orange is a little treacherous only because of its opacity, but the others and especially the umber's and sienna's and ochres are what is used mostly any way.

They are also pretty much universally soluble, not just alcohol and can be mixed with all resin coatings and color for epoxy and polyester, etc. A good touch up man would have no problem fixing that area as you say, but for the color to be accurate, even if Kas had the skill, it would mean at least staining the color he wanted and sealing it in at the least to have something to match to, it would otherwise only match the present color and not be acceptable in the end, being pigment it would also give dark and light shadows less one knows how to prevent them.

Trying to lead a newbie through the processes over the Internet would be difficult at the least. For you, me or anyone else who has had personal training in their application and use and understands there good and bad points and limitations they are fine. just as padding lacquers and burn in sticks and other patching and color meterial in the trade.

Not saying it can't be done by a novice, just diffcult :yes:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
It's Veneer, and the stain is through

My goodness I decided last week to try and sand it out but didn't have time to get to it until this weekend; I didn't receive email notifications for the last 6 posts or so and therefore didn't hear the other suggestions. Sorry for being so slow!

It is veneer (I checked the bottom) and I went through sanding a very thin layer at a time, turns out the stain goes all the way through. I know because I encountered the edge of the veneer (see last picture).

So, looks like some of the other ideas are my only option. I think I did a pretty good job with keeping the sanding block flat; I ran my hands over everything and it seems to be quite even, I'm not worried about that too much.

With respect to the color, I personally agree with chemmy and am not thrilled about the bleaching process; I really love the natural color of the wood so would like to avoid losing that, even though I know I could compensate with stain.

Most of you are correct in assuming that due to my newbie status most of these more complicated ideas would be tricky for me. For that reason I would like to try Steve's suggestion of spraying the alcohol dye stain and seeing if that would tackle most of the stain. If that doesn't work then potentially the Krylon to 'rest' on top would work, but that would likely hide all the wood patterns so at that point bleaching would probably be the way to go instead.

My only question is where do I obtain alcohol dye stain? Steve also mentioned spraying it, I'm not sure if it comes in spray or if I just use one of my spray bottles. Any suggestions on where to get it would be helpful, I just consulted google and it seemed to be mostly specialty stores.

I really can't thank you guys enough for all the help, this is one of my first major projects and I am learning a tremendous amount due to the absolute pain this stain has been. It's been a fantastic learning experience and I'm really glad you've all been willing to help. Thanks, again!
 

Attachments

1 - 20 of 22 Posts
Top