Fixes for water stained, oil finished, steel wool attempted oak fold down desk

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Forum topic by joesub101 posted 08-12-2009 07:26 PM 1644 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4 posts in 3974 days

08-12-2009 07:26 PM

I have a problem that I need advise on. My wife placed a vase on her boss’s favorite piece of furniture and the vase leaked and sat on the piece for some time creating an ugly stain. The piece is an oak fold-down desk that is finished with some sort of oil. Her boss attempted to rub the stain out with steel wool and has added another ring of what appears to be rust. The piece is located in the entrance of the high-end spa/salon that my wife works and is currently covered with a doilly.

My thinking is to use 0000 synthetic woven wool pads to clean up the steel wool problem and try to match the penetrating oil by using either Formby’s or Danish oil.

I would appreciate any and all help here as I have never attempted to make these fixes. HELP!!!

-- joesub101

5 replies so far

View Waldschrat's profile


505 posts in 3639 days

#1 posted 08-12-2009 08:56 PM

First do not panic! Then grab some 180, and perhaps some 240 grit sand paper and a Cork or soft bottomed piece of wood to sand with (sand block)

Take the steel wool pads and put them in a drawer, you are never allowed to take them to oak again.

Grab some of the oil that you said that you had, Danish or what ever it is you can find that matches.

You need to find out how deep the stain has gone… if the steel wool is actually steel and not stainless steel or somesort of other type of metal, that is what likely caused the futher staining and rusting of the wood. Oak contains tannic acid and it will react with steel causing black stains or discolorations… in fact oak will react with just the sweat from your hands, and one who has worked with oak, especially european oak, will notice very quickly how black the hands become when working with oak. Water can also cause oak to turn dark colors if exposed long enough.

As I was saying you need to find out how deep the stain has gone… sand carefully, at first with the 180, starting first in the affected area, with the grain just to see how deep the discoloration has penetrated. But do not sand too much, (thats why I suggested the 180, because its finer and does not remove so much material at once), other wise it can be that you cause a “wavy” surface or “valleys” thats why you need a sand cork so you sand evenly.

If you find out that the stain is not so deep, than sand across the middle of the table top and “feather” out the sanding so you can blend in the oil better… eventually moving up to the 240 grit.

If the stain is really deep, than it might be worth getting a hand sanding machine, eccentric sander would be best, and sand the surface of the table down, probably starting with 120 and sand until the stain is gone and the rest of the table evenly, then go to 150, then 180 grit, then 240. Apply the oil, wait over night. Wipe excess, let dry overnight, sand lightly again, oil again, wipe off excess. Done.

-- Nicholas, Cabinet/Furniture Maker, Blue Hill, Maine

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4 posts in 3974 days

#2 posted 08-13-2009 05:10 PM

Thanks Waldschrat! Your obvious expertise is greatly appreciated. I will give this a try in the next week or so and get back to you as to my success.

-- joesub101

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 4089 days

#3 posted 08-13-2009 05:34 PM

Waldschrat is correct.

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View PurpLev's profile


8547 posts in 3852 days

#4 posted 08-13-2009 05:44 PM

what Waldschrat said.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View CharlesNeil's profile


2457 posts in 4074 days

#5 posted 08-14-2009 04:33 PM

I agree with all here , but i will add that using some oxcilic acid bleach will usially kill the described stain, its the same as deck brightner at the box store, use some distilled water to prevent reoccurance , go easy , the wood may appear lighter , but will return with a light scuff sand then re oil

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