Un-stain wood

Jose Prado

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I use recycled oak and want to "erase" the existing stain without sanding.

Is this possible?

Is it simply a question of using bleach?



I tried bleaching wood without stain using household bleach and found that it isn't strong enough. I suspect you'll find that to be true with stained wood too.

But hey, give it a try and let us know what happens. :)

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What iSawItFirst said plus it was likely finished so the finish will likely seal the stain to the wood making bleaching impossible. If you don't want to sand and you remove any nails, run it through your planer. If you're not sure about nails, run it through a friend's planer.

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  • 1 month later...

As an alternative to using a planer (preferably a hand plane) you could use a card scraper to remove any residue and uncleaned wood. A hand plane would be best but use a card scraper until you are sure you free of damaging items like nails and the like; unless you have a metal detector.


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A surface planer it is really the best (only?) way, in my book. I tried once to sand out an obnoxious stain-job, but it ended up being, well, wavy.

If you don't have a planer (or a neigbor's planer) (or your work is too big to fit into a planer), you have to use sandpaper. Have you tried the aluminum oxide sandpapers? if not, you are in for a wonderful surprise.

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IIRC, bleaching wood requires a much more caustic/strong formulation than ordinary household bleach.

I do know you can do it using a solution made from the powdered chlorine they sell for swimming pool care. Basically you mix the powdered form into water until it won't dissolve any more then apply it. Jeff Jewett has an article out there somewhere on the subject. It works well on pigmented stains where the particles of pigment are larger but is not particularly effective on dyes.

As an alternative to chemical stripper I'd recommend SoyGel. Works very well without the nasty fumes/caustic chemicals of a solvent based stripper. It may get a good bit of it off and save you some sanding.

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