Bleaching wood

      Choosing the correct bleaching agent makes all the difference when altering the natural color of wood to achieve uniformity. 1998.

by Rick Hill

I have two cubes of birdeye maple. I used household bleach to whiten the tops, but they did not lighten so I used oxalic acid. This turned the tops light gray. Do you have any suggestions?

Your dilemma started when you used the wrong bleach for your lightening. Many people make the mistake of thinking "bleach" in woodworking terms is the same bleach we see in household use.

Bob Flexner, in the book "Understanding Wood Finishing" (from Rodale Press), does an excellent job of explaining the different types of bleach and their individual uses. Flexner states "There are three types of bleach used in woodworking...Two-Part bleach (sodium hydroxide and hydrogen peroxide) removes the natural color from the wood. Chlorine bleach removes the dye from wood....And Oxalic Acid removes rust and water stains from wood."

Your problem is now the gray in the bleached maple. Your best bet is to now use the right system--the two part bleach. It may remove the gray. Then go on as before. If the gray does not come out you can try to stain the wood to add color, but take into consideration that the gray will be the undertone and will affect the color.

Rick Hill is an independent representative and consultant for industrial wood finishes. He has been involved in the woodworking industry for 12 years, and has been known to actually hold, shoot, and clean a spray gun.

If you have an industry related question, visit WOODWEB's Finishing Forum to post your question.

Would you like to add information to this article?
Interested in writing or submitting an article?
Have a question about this article?

Have you reviewed the related Knowledge Base areas below?
  • KnowledgeBase: Finishing: General Wood Finishing

  • KnowledgeBase: Knowledge Base

    Would you like to add information to this article? ... Click Here

    If you have a question regarding a Knowledge Base article, your best chance at uncovering an answer is to search the entire Knowledge Base for related articles or to post your question at the appropriate WOODWEB Forum. Before posting your message, be sure to
    review our Forum Guidelines.

    Questions entered in the Knowledge Base Article comment form will not generate responses! A list of WOODWEB Forums can be found at WOODWEB's Site Map.

    When you post your question at the Forum, be sure to include references to the Knowledge Base article that inspired your question. The more information you provide with your question, the better your chances are of receiving responses.

    Return to beginning of article.

    Refer a Friend || Read This Important Information || Site Map || Privacy Policy || Site User Agreement

    Letters, questions or comments? E-Mail us and let us know what you think. Be sure to review our Frequently Asked Questions page.

    Contact us to discuss advertising or to report problems with this site.

    To report a problem, send an e-mail to our Webmaster

    Copyright © 1996-2017 - WOODWEB ® Inc.
    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without permission of the Editor.
    Review WOODWEB's Copyright Policy.

    The editors, writers, and staff at WOODWEB try to promote safe practices. What is safe for one woodworker under certain conditions may not be safe for others in different circumstances. Readers should undertake the use of materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB after considerate evaluation, and at their own risk.

    WOODWEB, Inc.
    335 Bedell Road
    Montrose, PA 18801

    Contact WOODWEB

  • WOODWEB - the leading resource for professional woodworkers

      Home » Knowledge Base » Knowledge Base Article