Black stains on Maple wood work

pasigalJuly 9, 2007


I'm removing old shellac from the maple trim in our 1915 apartment. (Paint came off pretty well with a heat gun, thanks to the shellac). Denatured alcohol has worked great so far, but now I've hit an impasse with several black-stained areas (windowsills mostly). It almost looks like the wood was burned, but it's probably just 90 years of city soot/rain/pollution/neglect. I think wood bleach might be the answer, but does anyone have other suggestions?

My plan is to either re-apply amber shellac or a very very light colored stain/poly, but first I want to get the wood as uniform as possible. I will need to do a quick steel wool/scotchbrite sweep with Rock Miracle or Zip Strip to get the paint remnants off, which might help with uniformity. What do you think?



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You might try Oxalic acid first. It is less agressive and less costly. I have used it successfully to remove black marks from my deck. It is available at paint and hardware stores.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2007 at 9:58PM
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Maple often has black mineral streaks within it. This is just a natural part of the tree growing. Im not sure if this is what you have or not, but it is a possibility.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2007 at 10:46PM
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These may be rust stains from the nail heads. All of my window sills (1900, pine) have them. Rust stains are really impossible to remove perfectly. If it has to be perfect, you could drill them out with a 3/8" bit, and make matching plugs and glue them in. Not dowels, but face-grain plugs made with a "plug cutter" in a drill. When the grain is selected and matched carefully, and they are sanded flush and finished, plugs are a craftsmanlike way of dealing with a bad situation.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2007 at 8:01AM
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The black stains aren't from nails or streaks in the maple. The whole sill in one room is darkened, as are the lower window jambs. Will test out oxalic acid. I do have extra trim left over from a neighbor's renovation, and I might just cut new sills, as a last resort.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2007 at 11:21AM
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