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How to “bleach” wood? (Remove all color)

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Forum topic by NoSole posted 09-20-2021 07:39 PM 496 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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NoSole

8 posts in 1615 days


09-20-2021 07:39 PM

My brother has asked me to build him a table and was inspired by a piece of furniture by Rogan Gregory made from bleached maple (see photo attached). I’m totally unfamiliar with how this is possible or how it was achieved, so I’m looking for input on a potential process that will allow me to suck the color out of the grain, leaving a stark white, bare wood.

The RG piece was made from white maple, but what I’ll be testing and using (if successful), is a slab of sycamore. I know that bleach can be used to neutralize stains and lighten wood, but I need it be completely white, as in, complete color desaturation. Is this even possible? And if so, how?

Thanks!


15 replies so far

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Loren

11269 posts in 4887 days


#1 posted 09-20-2021 08:30 PM

I’ve done it as a test once. If memory serves I used 35% hydrogen peroxide to do the bleaching and lye to neutralize it when I was done.

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NoSole

8 posts in 1615 days


#2 posted 09-20-2021 09:27 PM


I ve done it as a test once. If memory serves I used 35% hydrogen peroxide to do the bleaching and lye to neutralize it when I was done.

- Loren

Thanks, I’ll look into that. Though I understand the concept of neutralization, I’m certainly no chemist. Can you comment on the application and subsequent neutralization processes?

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Lazyman

7943 posts in 2627 days


#3 posted 09-20-2021 09:39 PM

I have bleached walnut with oxalic acid because I needed to remove some stains. It took most of the color out of the walnut so it would probably make the maple look really white.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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Kudzupatch

297 posts in 2448 days


#4 posted 09-20-2021 09:41 PM

There is wood bleach available. I used in the past and I am going to have to use it get the name off the transom of my boat so I can stain it and it appear all the same color.

-- Jeff Horton * Kudzu Craft skin boats* www.kudzucraft.com

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Loren

11269 posts in 4887 days


#5 posted 09-20-2021 10:02 PM


I ve done it as a test once. If memory serves I used 35% hydrogen peroxide to do the bleaching and lye to neutralize it when I was done.

- Loren

Thanks, I’ll look into that. Though I understand the concept of neutralization, I’m certainly no chemist. Can you comment on the application and subsequent neutralization processes?

- NoSole

I don’t remember much. I poured on the peroxide and after a few minutes poured on the lye. It’s important to wear safety equipment.

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

7943 posts in 2627 days


#6 posted 09-20-2021 10:17 PM

With the oxalic acid, you simply neutralize with water.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View 987Ron's profile

987Ron

2168 posts in 556 days


#7 posted 09-20-2021 10:35 PM

Never done it myself. Here is a Popular Woodworking article on bleaching wood. Hope it helps

https://www.popularwoodworking.com/projects/bleaching-wood/

-- Ron

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Jeff

553 posts in 4434 days


#8 posted 09-20-2021 10:57 PM

The lye activates the peroxide. In the pulp and paper industry peroxide is mixed with alkali to bleach pulp. Neutralize the alkali with lots of water or you can try dilute vinegar.

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CWWoodworking

2207 posts in 1419 days


#9 posted 09-21-2021 12:17 AM

The company I work for uses a lot of bleach. It causes a lot of problems in finishing and with veneer lifting.

The solution so far has been lighter and more coats and don’t flood when neutralizing.

Honestly using paper white birch/hard maple would be much easier.

View Hammerthumb's profile

Hammerthumb

3114 posts in 3215 days


#10 posted 09-21-2021 12:29 AM

I have used 2 part oxalic acid to bleach many hardwood floors. This should be available at hardwood flooring distributors. Neutralize with vinegar. Be very careful with this product as it is very toxic. Wear elbow length gloves, respirator, and face shield. Have the vinegar handy in case you get skin contact.
One of my apprentices made the mistake of placing his bare hand on freshly applied floor. He was from Mexico, and to this day his palm is white as an albino.

-- Paul, Duvall, WA

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Lazyman

7943 posts in 2627 days


#11 posted 09-21-2021 01:13 AM

Vinegar is another acid. To neutralize for oxalic acid skin contact, just use soap and water (according to label). Label also says to just use water to wash away the acid from the wood (to neutralize).

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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Hammerthumb

3114 posts in 3215 days


#12 posted 09-21-2021 02:08 AM

Sorry. Old age memory. We would apply vinegar and water to the wood to enhance the oxalic acid prior of application. Neutralization was with baking soda and water. Its been 20 years since the last bleached floor I did.

-- Paul, Duvall, WA

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Madmark2

3093 posts in 1828 days


#13 posted 09-21-2021 02:43 AM

Plane off the top layer.

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View MPython's profile

MPython

396 posts in 1052 days


#14 posted 09-21-2021 01:31 PM

I’ve used oxalyc acid to remove stains but have had no luck with it for removing all color. Strong peroxide and lye does the trick, but be casreful with it. Both chemicals are dangerous in the concentrations necessary to do the job.

View bilyo's profile

bilyo

1406 posts in 2342 days


#15 posted 09-21-2021 02:25 PM

As has been suggested above, you need a two part bleach to remove the natural color of wood. I don’t think you can do it with oxalic acid. Among other sources, Amazon has it and it is usually referred to as “A-B” bleach. The two parts appear to consist of sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) and hydrogen peroxide. I’m not sure what is used to neutralize it. I’m sure instructions come on the containers.

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