Red Oak - Dark Stain Removal or Lightening

We are preparing to restore and refinish a couple of antique items--a dinin g table and a side-by-side that belonged to my grandparents. Both, especia lly the side-by-side, are in need of significant repair and being 'tightene d up'. They are well over 100 years old; but preservation of antique finis h and patina is not a concern. My parents refinished them in the 1960's wi th a standard strip, sand, stain-and varnish process. The key word above i s "RESTORE."
The problem: We want the final color to be as close as possible to a set o f chairs we ordered a few years ago. Also, I need to replace two of the tab le leafs so color matching is a real concern. The chairs were stained to a MinWax specification (Red Oak #215), but they ended up lighter than expecte d. That is the stain we plan to use during restoration.
The table is red, but darker. I am sure the stripping and sanding process will lighten the wood but the deep-bedded stain pigment is probably going t o be a problem. I really don't want to go to the surface planer because th e existing top is not that thick.
I think I am pretty well equipped and experienced to handle the woodworking and finishing problems. HOWEVER, does anyone have suggestions on getting the deep pigment out of the oak, or at least lightening it? Oh - By the wa y the table legs are rope-patterned :0)
Thank You RonB
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On 1/1/2015 10:50 AM, RonB wrote:

You may or may not want to worry with the dark pigment in the grain. It is concentrated there and almost any other color stain will collect and concentrate there too. I believer that the dominating color is going that which is on top of the wood rather than that which is in the grain. IMHO the new stain color will mostly be visible in the non grain areas and will probably not be thrown off by that which is in the grain. Did that make any sense at all. ;~)
You could try this out with different color stains on a scrap and see if putting on one color, letting dry, and sand off a section and then restaining a different color in that section to determine if that would be tolerable or not.
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Paint remover and a brush.
--

dadiOH
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"RonB" wrote:
We are preparing to restore and refinish a couple of antique items--a dining table and a side-by-side that belonged to my grandparents. <snip> -------------------------------------------------- Years ago there were commercial strippers who would hang your piece in a pit containing heated stripper vapor.
The piece stayed dry and came out clean ready for refinishing.
My first shot would be a search to see if one is available.
After that, Dadio covered it.
Hey Robert, where are you?
Lew
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On 1/1/2015 11:50 AM, RonB wrote:

so any stain or pigment left in will have to be removed to get an even color. You don't mention the wood.
Since it's an open pored wood it's more difficult. You have to sand it deep enough, you might try oxalic acid to bleach and clean it out.
Stripping would be my first attempt and hoping that you can losen up the stuff in the pores. It it a veneer or solid wood? I'm guessing solid.
Which means you can go after it more aggressively. Apply stripper, clean it up using a toothbrush to get the pores clean apply stripper, clean it up using a stiff china hair toothbrush brush (see what you can find from a womans beauty parlor, they use china hair brushes to apply hair dyes to get the pores clean it's finer than the nylon brush and may help dig out the pigment better.
apply stripper clean it up. neutralize the stripper. apply oxalic acid clean it up neautraulize with boraxo soap.
--
Jeff

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On Thursday, January 1, 2015 6:07:42 PM UTC-6, woodchucker wrote:

ecially the side-by-side, are in need of significant repair and being 'tigh tened up'. They are well over 100 years old; but preservation of antique f inish and patina is not a concern. My parents refinished them in the 1960' s with a standard strip, sand, stain-and varnish process. The key word abo ve is "RESTORE."

table leafs so color matching is a real concern. The chairs were stained t o a MinWax specification (Red Oak #215), but they ended up lighter than exp ected. That is the stain we plan to use during restoration.

ng to be a problem. I really don't want to go to the surface planer becaus e the existing top is not that thick.

ing the deep pigment out of the oak, or at least lightening it? Oh - By th e way the table legs are rope-patterned :0)

Jeff - Good stuff.
The table is solid red oak.
I have stripped a lot of old furniture and understand the elbow-grease fact or. That is why I was concerned about the deep bedded pigment. I will a lso be using a real stripper as opposed to "green." I was planning on usin g a toothbrush on the legs, but based on comments here, I suspect that is w hat I might end up using one on the smooth surfaces too. Steel wool can be as difficult to get out of open grain woods as pigment residue.
Oxalic acid? I was thinking bleach but had not come across that yet. Base d on your comment and some more Google that is probably the way to go. You mentioned neutralizing the stripper. I have washed thoroughly with spirit s in the past, is there a better way of doing that?
Thanks RonB
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On 01/02/2015 10:24 AM, RonB wrote: ...

I avoid steel wool like the plague excepting for very rarely buffing out. On raw wood, particularly as you note, porous ones it is indeed more trouble than possible to gain. Also, particularly w/ oak and the tannic acid, leave any overnight in a grain and some dampness and you've got the black stain to add to the joy...
For working stuff out of the pores since you've got solid wood to refinish, brass or s-steel bristle brushes are the cat's meow...I use welders' brushes in various forms/sizes; they're available in toothbrush format that can be handy...
As for the crevices in the legs and the like, dental picks, gouges, "anything that works"...be creative.
Oxalic acid will remove color from the base wood as well; test _carefully_ in inconspicuous place(s) to ensure you don't take it too far, particularly since you're attempting to match some other pieces. If it were the table on its own, wouldn't matter so much; it'd just come out as it did and undoubtedly be satisfactory. If you take all the natural reddish hues out and try _then_ to match other; may be more difficult.
As for the "neutralizing" recipe, simple--read (and follow) the instructions for the particular product you use...
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On 1/2/2015 11:24 AM, RonB wrote:

mineral spirits, some times something else. But do neuraulize, you want it to be gone. Also use distilled water if you need to use water for the final rinse .. IF YOU NEED TO. it will clean off the metals from normal water. probably overkill, just mentioning it. I don't use water based stuff. But just thought I would mention it.
--
Jeff

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"dpb" wrote:

The marine industry also avoids steel wool, using bronze wool instead.
It's available at any good marine chandlery such as Jamestown Distributors.
Lew
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On Thursday, January 1, 2015 10:50:57 AM UTC-6, RonB wrote:

ecially > the side-by-side, are in need of significant repair and being 'ti ghtened > up'. They are well over 100 years old; but preservation of antique finish > and patina is not a concern. My parents refinished the m in the 1960's with a > standard strip, sand, stain-and varnish process. The key word above is > "RESTORE."
The key word is not "restore". In your case it is "refinish". If you stri p, sand, remove the original finish completely, remove the patina completel y, and then consider you re doing this to a piece that has already been "re finished" once, there isn't anything left to restore. Lastly, with conside ration that almost without doubt that a vintage oak piece wasn't stained an d certainly wasn't "varnished", there isn't anything left to restore.
So you are starting with a clean slate.

table > leafs so color matching is a real concern. The chairs were staine d to a > MinWax specification (Red Oak #215), but they ended up lighte r than > expected. That is the stain we plan to use during restor ation.
Again, this is not a restoration. Sounds to me you are trying to make your table and assorted chairs and table parts match a Minwax color you have co mmitted to using sometime in the past. Consider too, that if your old stai n/finish projects are a few years old, you won't duplicate the color (age a mbering)using the same color of stain and your top coat of choice.
If I had a client bring your assortment of pieces to me to refinish, I woul d tell them the best shot would be to refinish all pieces together at the s ame time. Strip the wood to bare and clean it well. It will be light enou gh. You can clean the tubules out by brushing off the stripper with a medi um scrub brush loaded with plenty of saw dust as an abrasive medium. Not a ll of the old color and finish will come off, but you can reach a certain c onsistency of color by doing all pieces the same way.
Never have I seen great, consistent success using any acids or bleaches to lighten color. The results are inconsistent, the tiniest remnant left behi nd can foul your finishes, and water on old wood and veneers (as carriers o r neutralizers for the acids)is a really bad idea.
You can clean the rope patterns on the chairs more easily (this is almost a ll end grain) with a brass brush and stripper.
If you are indeed well equipped and experienced, I will tell you how I woul d do it and you can tailor (or ignore!) as needed. I would strip all parts and clean as much as possible. Allow to completely dry overnight from last wash (I use lacquer thinner).
Using a 1mm tip and a cup gun (or HVLP), I would shoot a custom color of dy e I liked (favorite dye: Behlen's SolaLux) applied evenly over all the piec es. Previous experimentation would dictate how many times I would spray dy e. When correct amount of coats are matched, then apply lacquer or convers ion lacquer (using the correct tip) directly over the dried dye.
By laying the dye ON TOP of the wood, you will have color consistency throu ghout all pieces. Rubbing stain on, no matter what kind or how you do it w on't get it done.
Good luck!
Robert
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Actually it is a restoration - especially the side-by-side. This is a set of furniture that was owned by my great grandparents and goes back to the 1 880's or so. On the table I am also replacing some of the glue-blocks and a t least one of the leaves that is badly damaged.
The side-by-side is another story. The drop-down desk drawer is split righ t through some fairly intricate carving and will require some careful reass embly and repair. The interior of the desk area (cubbies, drawer,etc.) is a wreck. I suspect I will be rebuilding some of it with newly fabricated p arts. The cabinet has a general "sag" in the center that will have to be d ealt with when I get it on the bench. My folks replaced the original hardwa re with more "stylish" items but I have located period hardware from old ph otos. And it goes on...... I suspect I will have the table in the shop for a month or more. The cabinet will be out there for a lot longer.
I'm 68 years old and I remember eating holiday meals on the table when I wa s sitting on pillows to reach my turkey.
RonB
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