Cleaning Up an Old Board

Tips on getting the bird droppings and grime off a rustic old walnut board. August 30, 2007

(Furniture Making Forum)
I acquired an old walnut board, supposedly about 40-50 years old. It's about 3/4" x 17" x 12 ft. It looks old and weathered, and I have a project coming up where I could use it in its rustic condition. But it has also acquired some bird droppings and a few other stains over the years, which are a little too rustic. I hate to sand or plane it and lose its charm. Any ideas on how to clean up the crud without machining it?

Forum Responses
(Furniture Making Forum)
From contributor L:
Use a stiff bristle brush or even a wire brush to remove the unwanted crud. You will need to remove any sand or debris anyway, and this should do the trick. Also a mild soapy solution can help soften the bird droppings.

From contributor M:
You might try Murphy's oil soap. I would recommend testing it on a small area first to see how it affects your board. I haven't actually tried it on unfinished wood, but I have used it to clean plenty of old furniture.

From contributor S:
To clean wood, use TSP and a stiff bristle brush. Keep the wood wet while you scrub it - donít allow the TSP to dry on the wood. Rinse the wood properly and now simply poor wood bleach (not laundry bleach) onto the wood and allow it to dry. After the wood has dried, brush off the salt from the bleach. Usually TSP makes the wood go very dark, so you will be able to ensure even coverage. The wood bleach will bring the wood back to normal color. Both TSP and wood bleach come in powder form. Mix in two separate buckets. TSP works better when mixed with warm water.