walnut staining my fingers?!

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Forum topic by Mark posted 05-15-2013 03:04 AM 1272 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Mark's profile


777 posts in 1243 days

05-15-2013 03:04 AM

Evening all. I’m making a console table, mostly Cherry but with some Walnut for accent. I have noticed my hands pick up a bit of a dark stain, mainly on my fingers and a bit on the palms. I first noticed this when I built my cutting board (Maple and Walnut) and the walnut sawdust stained the white maple. I assume I’m not gonna grow a third eye or anything like that???? Any thoughts? Thanks.

-- Mark

6 replies so far

View ShaneA's profile


6142 posts in 1867 days

#1 posted 05-15-2013 03:08 AM

Happens to me too. Walnut and white oak get them black. Hard to get it off too. I believe it is the tannins (sp?) in the wood.

View camps764's profile


867 posts in 1628 days

#2 posted 05-15-2013 03:28 AM

Same here. I’m currently doing some arts and crafts furniture in walnut…constantly looks like I have dirty hands.

Every day when I go to my day job in corporate America I feel like Edward Norton in Fight Club when he shows up to work all beat up.

It usually wears off my hands after a couple of days out of the shop.

-- Steve

View shampeon's profile


1705 posts in 1452 days

#3 posted 05-15-2013 03:29 AM

Lemon juice, guys, or vinegar. Or, my secret tip, Barkeeper’s Friend. The acid takes out the tannins.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View Handtooler's profile


1305 posts in 1401 days

#4 posted 05-15-2013 09:23 AM

The higher the moisture content the worse it gets. I am using some at about 6% and no problem but just pick up a freshly dropped waltnut with the outter shell just darking and hands get really black. Thanks shampeon, I
ll heed your advice next season. As we have 5 large trees on our property to contend with their production of nuts each fall; and my hands look like farret feet.

-- Russell Pitner Hixson, TN 37343

View JAAune's profile


1513 posts in 1585 days

#5 posted 05-16-2013 12:07 AM

Tannin + iron = blackish-purple stains.

Walnut is very high in tannin and many woodworking tools have iron parts. Doing work with walnut almost inevitably causes purple stains on the hands. I suspect there’s iron content in people’s sweat too.

-- See my work at and

View ChuckV's profile


2840 posts in 2796 days

#6 posted 05-16-2013 12:21 AM

There was another discussion about this a while back:

-- β€œIt was they who were wrong, and for them here's a song.” ― I. Anderson

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