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Thread: Remove water stain from oak

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Iron River, MI
    Posts
    182

    Remove water stain from oak

    We've got an old advertising piece from the days when Dad worked in the Whiskey bus. It's the end of an oak aging cask with a clock and some graphics, name of the company and Roman numerals for the clock numbers. Over the years of storage it got water stained. I'm not sure how the graphics were applied, decals, paint, whatever was used back in the day, but we want to preserve the graphics. The stain is not covering any of the graphics. So here's the question and I may already know the answer. Anyone know any way to remove water stains from from an unfinished piece of oak? I've done a little research, sanding, oxalic acid, but I'm not sure which is the best approach. Anyone have any experience in removing water stains? It may be that we photograph the graphics, sand the entire surface, take the piece to a sign painter and have the graphics reapplied, but that sort of destroys the originality of the piece.
    Reality continues to ruin my life!

  2. #2
    This thread really needs pictures. Are we talking an actual water stain or a stain from iron or some other metal?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Iron River, MI
    Posts
    182
    Thanks, John. Unfortunately I don't have the piece in hand. My brother has it, I'll see if he can send me a photo. Based on his conversation I'm pretty sure it's water and not a mineral stain. But let's see what happens.
    Reality continues to ruin my life!

  4. #4
    I have had success removing water stains in unfinished red oak by wetting the entire surface uniformly with water and letting it air dry. YMMV.
    Lee Schierer
    USNA- '71
    Captain USN(Ret)

    My advice, comments and suggestions are free, but it costs money to run the site. If you found something of value here please give a little something back by becoming a contributor! Please Contribute

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Marietta GA
    Posts
    1,120
    You can even up the stain by using a stain on the rest of the surface. Golden Oak stain will give a more uniform patina to the whole piece. You may have to use artist brushes to get the proper stain.

    IMO removing the existing stain is problematic no matter the method. There's just not enough control.

    The other way may be to use a card scraper and remove most of the surface stain in very small areas. Again with out a picture, it's hard to give effective advice.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Aurora, Colorado (Saddle Rock)
    Posts
    514
    I have no idea if this is true… but I heard that lemon juice works.

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