Removing an Ink Stain from a Catalyzed Finish

      To get ink off a finish, start with the mildest cleaners and move up slowly. January 14, 2013

I just came back from a client’s home and she accidentally left her library card underneath a glass of water on her somewhat new side tables (solid cherry tops). The end result was ink transfer from the card onto the finish. Ignoring for the moment why someone would do such a thing in the first place, is there any way to remove the marks without sanding back to bare wood? The top is well over six months old so it is fully cured. The finish as stated was MLC's Duravar satin with either two or more likely three coats of build.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor A:
Start by trying to clean with water and dish soap. Then you try the milder solvents (mineral spirits then naphtha). If you do not achieve results from these try xylene and a Q-tip, being careful not to spread the color over a larger area. Blot the stain and don't smear it around. If this has no effect, I would carefully shave the area with a new utility knife blade. Touch the area up afterwards with a few quick shots of aerosol lacquer in the proper sheen. If none of this works, you only spent five minutes finding out.

From contributor G:
Worst case scenario would be a good scuff sanding and a recoat of the final layer of finish. You shouldn't have to strip to wood.

From contributor F:
MLC's catalyzed products, even the pre-cats, are very solvent resistant. I have used rags saturated with lacquer thinner many times and rubbed doors with no damage at all to the finish. I would try that. If that suggestion scares you try it on an inconspicuous spot first.

From the original questioner:
I think I might try the mineral spirits followed by lacquer thinner route. Hopefully that'll do the trick. It's not the end of the world if I have to re-finish it as it's a small top with no stain. I just figure if someone had run into it before it may save some time.

From contributor R:
Also, try alcohol. Some inks are alcohol soluble. Before going full strength with lacquer thinner/acetone, try a mix three or two parts mineral spirits to one part acetone. Be very careful on full strength acetone.

From contributor O:
These are some high risk suggestions given. Since the (ink) stain was/is waterborne, start with the most gentle approach. Use household bleach with a drop of detergent for a wetting agent on a small pad or q-tip and be patient. Next use oxalic acid solution (bleach) with the same application. I'd skip the naphtha/m-s and go to alcohol if bleaches fail. Only then would I look to the hotter solvents.

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: Knowledge Base

  • KnowledgeBase: Finishing

  • KnowledgeBase: Finishing: General Wood Finishing

    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 © 1996-2016 - 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