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Thread: Cleaning grease from wood before finishing

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Evanston, IL
    Posts
    1,422

    Cleaning grease from wood before finishing

    This is a little embarrassing, but I need some advice. I built the cabinets for my kitchen and put the face frames and side panels up before getting the finish put on them. They have been up for over a year while I procrastinated and worked on other projects. My wife is a dedicated home cook and, despite use of the range hood, they have been exposed to a year's worth of cooking grease. It is finally time to put the finish on and I am wondering about the best way to clean them first. The face frames are hard maple and the side panels are mdf. The finish is a primer and catalyzed paint that will be sprayed. I am hiring out the finishing and I don't recall the name of the primer and paint, but they are an italian product and the finish color is a dark blue.

    I sanded the pieces before putting them up, but they'll need to be sanded with 180 or 220 again. I worry that if I sand them without doing anything else first, I won't remove the grease. I've considered using a card scraper on the face frames before sanding, but that isn't a good option on the mdf side panels. I could remake those, if necessary, if there isn't a better option.

    Finally, the question: Can you suggest a solvent, soap, or other cleaner that would remove the grease before sanding and not interfere with finishing? Any help is appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    WNY
    Posts
    7,320
    Naptha and mineral spirits removes cooking grease and it won't swell MDF. Wipe them several times with a new rag each time to be sure all the grease is gone. More problematic is if there is any non solvent soluble grease dirt, food, etc. on the MDF. You can use dishwasher soap and water on the maple to remove that stuff, if need be, but you can't use it on MDF. Let's hope Naptha does the trick.

    I would not sand the MDF unless absolutely necessary. It will make it extremely thirsty and paint will just suck into it. If you do sand it I would look at a non WB primer so it doesn't swell.

    Is your finish by Milesi, not that it really matters? What does matter is that the primer used bonds with both the hard maple and MDF even if there are traces of grease.

    John

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Posts
    56,575
    TSP is what is often used for this purpose, but I'm not sure it can be used on bare wood or not...
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Evanston, IL
    Posts
    1,422
    John and Jim, Thanks for your suggestions. I'll try naptha first and see how it works. Worst case, I'll remake the panels. There are only 3 of them, as the base cabinets were finished and installed before the long pause. Milesi sounds possible, but I really don't recall. My finisher uses it almost exclusively and they matched a Benjamin Moore color that my wife picked. He told me what it was when he did the base cabinets, but it has been so long that I've forgotten.

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