Varnishing a roof beam?

Hi,
I have an exposed roof beam in my converted attic bedroom. It looks a bit dull. To spruce it up a bit, is the normal treatment to sand it a bit, and then varnish it? It is one of the main roof supporting beams.
Thanks in advance for any answers
James
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What is the big idea posting stuff like this on here?
Don't you know anything about caustic soda?
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Thanks for the reply Micheal!!
Well, the big idea, was to get an idea like your idea, isn't that the idea of newsgroups. Good idea these newsgroups are.
I know that caustic soda can clean drains and hurts a lot if you get some high concentration solution on your hand.
Are you saying that caustic soda can be used on wood? Please tell, then all reading this might be able to get a good idea from their new found knowledge.
Another reason for posting this was that maybe sanding and varnishing a load bearing beam over 100 years old is just a plain old stupid idea. Who knows? I have no idea.
James
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Try a weak solution of bleach with a scrubbing brush on an unimportant part, just to see how it turns out. A cap full of bleach in a litre of warm water and scrub it into the timber. You should see the dirt and stuff falling off.
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