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Expert's Corner — removal

TIP: Removing Black Watermarks

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TIP: Removing Black Watermarks

There are two types of watermarks on furniture: white and black. White marks are in the finish and can usually be removed by rubbing with an abrasive. Black marks are stains in the wood and can usually be removed with oxalic acid, but only after the finish has been removed first. Oxalic acid is a type of bleach. It’s not the same as household bleach or two-part bleach (sodium hydroxide and hydrogen peroxide), which is sold in separate containers. Household bleach will remove dye stain but not black watermarks. Two-part bleach will remove black water marks but also all the natural color from the wood, which you rarely want to do. The accompanying before-and-after...

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TIP: Removing Wax Smear

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TIP: Removing Wax Smear

Paste wax is easy enough to apply. Simply wipe it on the surface. The problem comes in removing the excess wax, because if you don’t remove all the excess it leaves a smear rather than a shine, as shown in a somewhat exaggerated form in the picture. The trick is to use a clean cloth or lambs-wool pad for the removal—with the emphasis on “clean.” If you continue to wipe off the excess with a cloth or pad that has become loaded with wax, you will just be moving the wax around the surface rather than transferring it to the...

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Resistance of Dyes to Fading

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Resistance of Dyes to Fading

All dyes fade much faster than pigment when exposed to bright light—sunlight and fluorescent light being the worst culprits. But some types of dyes fade faster than others. The worst for fading are the natural vegetable dyes, such as walnut husks and berries. These were sometimes used centuries ago, but they were replaced in the late nineteenth century by “aniline” dyes. These are usually acid or basic dyes derived from various chemicals. They quickly replaced natural dyes in the textile industry and then entered the woodworking industry. They are available to woodworkers today in powder form to be dissolved in...

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Polyurethane Won’t Dry

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If you experience oil-based polyurethane not drying well, it’s not likely that it’s bad polyurethane. It’s more likely that the wood you’re finishing contains a natural oil or you have applied an oil to the wood and the oil hasn’t dried. In both cases we’re talking only about the first coat of polyurethane. After the first coat has dried, there shouldn’t be any further drying problems. Most exotic woods (woods from jungle areas), with the exception of mahogany, contain a natural resin that is very oily. You can feel the oiliness. The mineral-spirits solvent in the polyurethane is also the...

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White Water Marks

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White Water Marks

Water marks on tabletops caused by sweaty glasses or sitting water can usually be removed, though not without some risk of damaging the finish. Professionals have access to an aerosol product called “blush remover” that restores the color to lacquer finishes. Blush remover doesn’t work well on shellac, water base or catalyzed finishes. If you use a blush remover, be sure to spray just a fine mist on the water ring. Don’t make the surface wet, and for sure, don’t touch the surface until it dries, which can take awhile. Other than using a blush remover, you can try coating...

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