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Utilizing this Sassafras lumber with mildew?

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Forum topic by Keith Kelly posted 12-10-2014 04:17 AM 985 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Keith Kelly

223 posts in 1128 days


12-10-2014 04:17 AM

Topic tags/keywords: sassafras mildew mold

I’m building some kitchen cabinets for our basement, using this Sassafras lumber I got real cheap. I had hoped to use some of the orange bark as an accent in some places.

Upon closer inspection, some of the sapwood has mildew in it. It’s more noticeable when wet/sealed, so I’m trying to figure out:

  1. Do I use it?
  2. If I use the lumber, do I need to somehow kill the mildew?
  3. Is there a way to remove it?

I’m afraid this is suddenly limiting my selection of “character” lumber to ues for this project, so if you have any ideas I’m very interested.

-- Keith - Bolivar, Missouri, http://www.SquareOneWoodworks.com


17 replies so far

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

5765 posts in 951 days


#1 posted 12-10-2014 04:24 AM

Don’t know how to go about dealing with the mildew, but that’s some good lookin wood.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

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Keith Kelly

223 posts in 1128 days


#2 posted 12-10-2014 04:28 AM

Thanks. My plans are to use the “character” wood for some of the door rails and stiles, with a particular emphasis on the outer edges of the island cabinets to allow the oranges/darks to sort of create a visual frame around the whole cabinet. We will see what happens – this will likely change as I go based on the results of this mildew thing.

-- Keith - Bolivar, Missouri, http://www.SquareOneWoodworks.com

View crank49's profile

crank49

3981 posts in 2436 days


#3 posted 12-10-2014 04:37 AM

Get you some Borax Powder, the stuff you use in the laundry.
Put a cup of it in a shallow bowl, then pour in a 50/50 mixture of water and Clorox till its the consistency of a runny milkshake.
Then using one of those abrasixe scrub brushes like you clean a charcoal grill with, dip it in the Clorox/Borax mixture and scrub the mildew stained wood.
Let it dry in place.
When dry, takes a coupe of days, you can dust the powdery residue off and use the wood however you want. The Clorox kills and bleaches the mildew stain and the Borax keeps it from coming back.

-- Michael: Hillary has a long list of accomplishments, though most DAs would refer to them as felonies.

View WDHLT15's profile

WDHLT15

1572 posts in 1941 days


#4 posted 12-10-2014 12:15 PM

Looks like water stain. I get it when air drying lumber. If it is water stain, it will plane out.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln. hamsleyhardwood.com

View Tennessee's profile

Tennessee

2410 posts in 1979 days


#5 posted 12-10-2014 12:45 PM

If the “mildew and possible fungus” is dry and in the wood, I think it adds more character. Why not just seal it in with your finish? It’s not like it will see more moisture and grow.

-- Paul, Tennessee, http://www.tsunamiguitars.com

View Keith Kelly's profile

Keith Kelly

223 posts in 1128 days


#6 posted 12-10-2014 02:07 PM

WDHLT15 – That could be it; this was air-dried. The trick here, is that if I plane it out, I’ll be planing past the bark that makes this wood what it is. I cut a cross-section in one of the boards and it seems fairly deep.

Tennessee – BINGO. You nailed one question I have. I’m OK with the darkness concentration on the long board (it’s closer to the bark). However, I do not like the darkness that’s more scattered throughout the sapwood like in the shorter board.

So if this is safe & sealing it will indeed prevent further growth, I’ll probably use the long board as-is, and try treatment on the shorter one.

Crank49 – I purchased the necessary supplies last night and will do some testing today. Hopefully this doesn’t mess with the bark color, but fortunately I have plenty of cutoffs to test with.

-- Keith - Bolivar, Missouri, http://www.SquareOneWoodworks.com

View putty's profile

putty

1009 posts in 1071 days


#7 posted 12-10-2014 02:15 PM

try using some oxalic acid, you can buy it at home depot or lowes, it’s packaged as teak brightener.

-- Putty

View Keith Kelly's profile

Keith Kelly

223 posts in 1128 days


#8 posted 12-10-2014 11:28 PM

Ruh Roh!

I pulled out some cutoffs (no finish applied) and test pieces (finish only on one side) that I made 2-3 months ago. They were sitting in various places in my shop. Some with free air all around, and some stacked next to other boards. I don’t believe I have a humidity problem in my shop (attached garage) at all, but I could be wrong.

Ok I’m certain that this wasn’t there when I applied the finish. It looks like about 90% of my Sassafras sapwood has developed this darkness sometime within the past 2-3 months. Now, I’ve had this sassafras for about the past 7-8 months, and before that it had been stickered and air drying for a year.

I’m still awaiting the bleach/water/borax test to sit for a couple days. So far it seems to have had little effect. But, I may try a higher concentration in a day or two. We shall see.

I’ll probably (and sadly) try to avoid using the sapwood due to this. I’m afraid of the sapwood continuing to change in color once the cabinets are built. With the amount of time I’m spending on this project, that would be embarrassing.

For future reference, here are the test pieces I pulled out.

-- Keith - Bolivar, Missouri, http://www.SquareOneWoodworks.com

View Fettler's profile

Fettler

200 posts in 1462 days


#9 posted 12-11-2014 12:12 AM



try using some oxalic acid, you can buy it at home depot or lowes, it s packaged as teak brightener.

- putty

2nd this. Wood brightener has worked on mildew for me before in the past

-- --Rob, Seattle, WA

View Kazooman's profile

Kazooman

628 posts in 1417 days


#10 posted 12-11-2014 02:07 AM

Bummer on the mildew. That is really some nice grain pattern. Should make some pretty cabinets.

Just a word of caution. Sassafras can be a real sensitizer, so use plenty of dust protection. Actually, there is some evidence that sassafras dust can cause nasopharyngeal cancer. This has been shown in mice, but not definitively in humans to the best of my knowledge. You don’t want to be the one who establishes that link. Wear a good dust mask and clean up well after machining the wood.

View Keith Kelly's profile

Keith Kelly

223 posts in 1128 days


#11 posted 12-11-2014 02:22 AM


2nd this. Wood brightener has worked on mildew for me before in the past
- Fettler

Ok I’ll try that and we’ll see how it works.


Bummer on the mildew. That is really some nice grain pattern. Should make some pretty cabinets.

Just a word of caution. Sassafras can be a real sensitizer, so use plenty of dust protection. Actually, there is some evidence that sassafras dust can cause nasopharyngeal cancer. This has been shown in mice, but not definitively in humans to the best of my knowledge. You don t want to be the one who establishes that link. Wear a good dust mask and clean up well after machining the wood.

- Kazooman


Thanks for the reminder. Sassafras is deceiving because it smells so good.

-- Keith - Bolivar, Missouri, http://www.SquareOneWoodworks.com

View crank49's profile

crank49

3981 posts in 2436 days


#12 posted 12-11-2014 04:33 AM

For really bad mildew I have used the bleach / borax mix straight, without dilution.
Ruined a nice shirt that way.

P.S. If straight bleach applied with agressive scrubbing won’t change the stain in about an hour, you will have to try other methods.

P.P.S. The Borax is a good product to prevent mildew in the first place. Boric acid is even better, but not as easily found.

And: If you can live with the stain and just want to prevent further growth, the paint department at Home Depot, and others probably, has a mildewcide product you can add to whatever finish you are applying. That stuff works well, but it ain’t cheap.

-- Michael: Hillary has a long list of accomplishments, though most DAs would refer to them as felonies.

View Keith Kelly's profile

Keith Kelly

223 posts in 1128 days


#13 posted 12-11-2014 05:33 AM

Ahhhh, it looks like my huge bucket of Tim-Bor will come in handy here.

From Tim-Bor: “Disodium Octaborate Tetrahydrate (DOT) maximizes the solubility, the rate of dissolution and the boric oxide content to give a borate active ingredient far superior to traditional boric acid or borax.”

-- Keith - Bolivar, Missouri, http://www.SquareOneWoodworks.com

View WDHLT15's profile

WDHLT15

1572 posts in 1941 days


#14 posted 12-11-2014 12:44 PM

After looking at the pics, looks to me like the tree had died, then the sapwood stained (blue stain), then the boards were cut.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln. hamsleyhardwood.com

View Keith Kelly's profile

Keith Kelly

223 posts in 1128 days


#15 posted 12-29-2014 02:14 PM

I don’t want to leave you hanging…so, here’s a photo update.

I wasn’t able to easily remove the stain, so I only used sapwood without the stain…hoping that it will stay that way. And, I used it sparingly.

Here is the work in progress. The legs are not yet topcoated, which makes them look flat in the picture. However, they stick out some, giving some additional depth in real life. I’m kicking myself for my grain selection for 2 of the drawers, but the project as a whole is turning out very well.

-- Keith - Bolivar, Missouri, http://www.SquareOneWoodworks.com

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