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“Equalizing” Sapwood

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Finishing Tip by Bob Flexner

But it’s usually better to equalize the sapwood to the color of the heartwood.One method is to bleach the wood using two-part bleach (sodium hydroxide and hydrogen peroxide). This will remove the coloring from the heartwood, so you can then stain the wood back to the color you want.
To achieve an even coloring with darker colored woods, it’s always best to use only heartwood to begin with. But this isn’t always possible. So you may want to “equalize” the coloring of the sapwood and heartwood.

The easier way to do this, if you intend to stain the wood dark, is to use a dark dye stain as shown in the accompanying picture. Light colored dye stains don’t work as well,manned stains that contain binders, such as oil, water-based and lacquer stains, work even less well.

Though more difficult, the best way to equalize the coloring is to spray a dye stain just on the sapwood, as shown on the middle stripe in the second accompanying picture. You can then follow with a binder stain if you want to further equalize the coloring, as shown on the stripe second from the right. Finally, apply the finish, which will produce the true coloring.


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