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Thread: Bleaching Hard Maple

  1. #1
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    Bleaching Hard Maple

    I'd like to bleach some hard maple and get it as white as I can. Has anyone done this? Can anyone point me to a good tutorial?

    Thanks.

    Jason
    "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well armed lamb contesting the vote."

  2. #2
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    Jason I've been bleaching all woods including maples for decades, and there is alot more to this than meets the eye.

    First off you would have to tell me what the end product is to be and where it is to be used or placed, then what type of finishes/stains/dyes/etc., you plan on using, if any - [ some finishes cannot be used over a bleached surface, they are not compatible] and any other pertinent info you can provide as to your reasons for doing such ok?

    After that, then we an discuss making it white as paper by hyper-bleaching ok?
    Sincerely,

    S.Q.P - SAM - CHEMMY.......... Almost 50 years in this art and trade and counting...

  3. #3
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    It will be a model truck of the Toys And Joys variety. It will sit inside on a shelf most likely with a gel poly finish on it.
    "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well armed lamb contesting the vote."

  4. #4
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    Well Jason, it can be done but it's not cheap in the sense the materials to bleach it will cost more than the wood

    If your still adamant about going forward, you will need to purchase a two part bleach kit, the kit will have a bottle of part A or part 1 which is lye [sodium hydroxide] and the second bottle part B or 2 will be a strong [35%] bottle of hydrogen peroxide, which is used to lighten the wood after burning it with the lye solution ok?

    Now to hyper-bleach you will need to apply the lye first and let dry and then the hydrogen peroxide and force dry, this second step may take more than 1 application ok? the force drying can be done with a high temp hair dryer 1200 watts or more and as you will see will get the wood near paper white if done correctly as outlined. do samples first till you can see or know whether 1 or more apps of the part 2 bleach are necessary for your likes ok? good luck and happy finishing.

    Forgot - you need to neutralize the lye with 5% acetic acid [normal household white vinegar] to insure any unreacted lye is not or no longer active, this is done after all the part a/2 applications have been completed. After this neutralizing, it should be left to dry again and then washed clean with tap water to insure there is not chemical activity present of any of the applications ok, then it wil need to be sanded lightly so as not to sand through the bleached surface, with 320 or 400 sandpaper, then your poly can be applied, keep in mind that poly is yellow/amber and will detract from what your trying to accomplish, i would personally recommend a non yellowing clear coat such as acrylic, a can or 2 of Krylon clear will do the job and can be had in all sheens from gloss to flat. With this your "white maple will stay white ok?
    Last edited by sheldon pettit; 01-10-2013 at 11:52 PM.
    Sincerely,

    S.Q.P - SAM - CHEMMY.......... Almost 50 years in this art and trade and counting...

  5. #5
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    Jason,

    The bleached maple will stay white; but the wipe on gel poly will not!

    If you want it to stay as light as possible you need to use a non oil-based finish, most oil based finishes will yellow over time. The water-borne finishes will not yellow.
    Scott

    Finishing is an 'Art & a Science'. Actually, it is a process. You must understand the properties and tendencies of the finish you are using. You must know the proper steps and techniques, then you must execute them properly.

  6. #6
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    I ordered the two part bleach today. Looking forward to it's arrival so I can try it out on some scrap.

    Thanks for the tip on the water borne finishes, Scott. Any specific recommendations?
    "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well armed lamb contesting the vote."

  7. #7
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    I just noticed Sheldon's suggestion of Krylon spray. That might be just the thing for this project. Thanks.
    "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well armed lamb contesting the vote."

  8. #8
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    LOL, it's not that i hate aqueous emulsion finishes, and why i recommend solvent coatings, hate is a strong word, i just really, really, really, dont like them, the chemistry sucks, coalescence that is. One day the new young chemist may have a breakthrough with such, but i'm not holding my breath. But...... if they do and i'm still kicking i'll sure give it another try at that time
    Sincerely,

    S.Q.P - SAM - CHEMMY.......... Almost 50 years in this art and trade and counting...

  9. #9
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    The bleach has arrived!
    "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well armed lamb contesting the vote."

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by sheldon pettit View Post
    LOL, it's not that i hate aqueous emulsion finishes, and why i recommend solvent coatings, hate is a strong word, i just really, really, really, dont like them, the chemistry sucks, coalescence that is. One day the new young chemist may have a breakthrough with such, but i'm not holding my breath. But...... if they do and i'm still kicking i'll sure give it another try at that time
    Just curious, Sheldon, when was the last time you tried one? In what ways does the chemistry "suck"? Curious minds, at least mine, would like to know.

    John

  11. #11
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    Finally getting back to this project. Starting to think this hard maple is just plain too hard for me to work with. What could I use that is softer but will have a similar look when I'm done?
    "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well armed lamb contesting the vote."

  12. #12
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    Soft maple is a little softer, though not much, and has a very similar look. Poplar has a similar grain but is about as soft as pine, really easy to work with, and could be bleached white.

    John

  13. #13
    John T,be careful what you say about maple hardness. They'll get that danged measurin' scale out again!

  14. #14
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    Picked up poplar today. Starting this all over on Monday.
    "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well armed lamb contesting the vote."

  15. #15
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    Today I did some initial milling...

    PoplarPile.jpg
    "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well armed lamb contesting the vote."

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