Water stains on oak table

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Forum topic by Brian Grabast posted 07-25-2018 10:07 PM 633 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Brian Grabast

21 posts in 1653 days

07-25-2018 10:07 PM

I purchased a game table on craigslist that is bumper pool, a card table and a regular table top. The table top is oak plywood. Over half of the table top is water stained. I have striped the polyurethane and now I need to remove the stain. I have read that plain household bleach like Clorox can remove stains. Has any one had any luck with using Clorox or do I need to go straight to oxalic acid? I would like to go with the least hash chemical possible. I have to be careful sanding because I don’t want to go through the plywood. There is also a small area on one edge that isn’t in the picture where the plywood swelled. I’m going to remove that and inlay a checker board. My other option is to use a router and take 1/4” out and lay another piece of plywood in the area.

Thanks for any help.

-- Brian, Olathe KS --- Remember you're only one oops away from expensive firewood.

7 replies so far

View bondogaposis's profile


5604 posts in 2954 days

#1 posted 07-26-2018 12:57 AM

Skip the house hold bleach and use wood bleach.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View bilyo's profile


959 posts in 1706 days

#2 posted 07-29-2018 03:42 PM

This looks like minerals in the water have reacted with natural tannin in the oak. Oxalic acid is the usual cure for this. Try it first. If there is still some residue of finish on/in the wood you may need to sand it lightly so that the oxalic acid can penetrate.

View runswithscissors's profile


3081 posts in 2628 days

#3 posted 07-31-2018 04:37 AM

I recommend the book “The Furniture Doctor” by George Grotz. Doubleday is publisher. I don’t know whether it is still in print. Not only a wealth of information, but an entertaining read.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

2131 posts in 766 days

#4 posted 07-31-2018 12:36 PM

RWS – yes, it is still available on Amazon for about $10.
there are dozens of very fine books on furniture finishing, refinishing and repair.


-- I am a painter. That's what I do. I paint things --

View Nubsnstubs's profile


1660 posts in 2333 days

#5 posted 07-31-2018 01:53 PM

Just for S&G’s, since they are really pretty cheap, try rubbing a lemon on the stain. It might work. You do have to cut the lemon to expose the juice….... It works on removing stains from my hands…..... Jerry (in Tucson)

-- Jerry (in Tucson)

View Brian Grabast's profile

Brian Grabast

21 posts in 1653 days

#6 posted 08-05-2018 01:09 PM

Tried the bleach. It worked okay but it had raised spots kind of like it bubbled in spots. So I went with second option route the table down a 1/4” and lay in a 1/4” piece of plywood. When I started to do that I found out the table is a thin piece of oak over particle board. Now I know why the top bubbled in areas after the bleach. Thanks for all of the bleaching tips by the results I got I’m sure bleaching would have worked if it was solid oak. Maybe even if it had been plywood. I hind sight I should have cut in to the area where I’m going to inlay the checker board to see what was under there instead of assume it was plywood.

-- Brian, Olathe KS --- Remember you're only one oops away from expensive firewood.

View ArtMann's profile


1462 posts in 1419 days

#7 posted 08-05-2018 02:53 PM

If the table top is plywood as you say, my suggestion is to throw the top away and make another one. I predict you will not be able to rid the current top of stain without damaging the veneer.

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