Removing Black Streaks from Maple

Advice on getting the last remnants of a previously-applied dye stain out of a maple door before refinishing. July 24, 2006

I had 4 finished hard maple cabinet doors and I didn't like the finished color, so I stripped them with lacquer thinner and sanded them smooth. Unfortunately they still have a lot of black streaks that appear to run too deep to sand out. What is the best way to remove this color without adversely impacting the new finish? Is it best to bleach it out? If so, what type of bleach, mixture, and process is recommended?

My new finish schedule will be the same as it was originally: sprayed dye stain, pigmented wiping stain, vinyl sealer, toner, lacquer. Any help would be appreciated.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor T:
It depends. If you originally dyed the piece and if the black streaks are remnants of that dye and if they are not locked down by sealer and/or lacquer you should be able to bleach them out with chlorine bleach. You'll need something stronger than Clorox though. I use swimming pool bleach. I say if because for the type of schedule you've outlined, it's unusual to start out with a very dark dye. Sometime you can remove the color by washing the piece with a good strong TSP solution. If the color is the wood itself, your best bet is a two part bleach.

However: if you're going to dye/stain/tone, you'll probably bury that sucker so deep, you'll have to know where it is to see it. Also, for maple you may want to consider a sealer between the dye and stain to avoid blotching. A very thin wash coat of your lacquer will do the trick.

From the original questioner:
These marks were definitely not there before the original finish, so I know it's not the wood itself. What is TSP?

From contributor T:

TSP = Tri-Sodium Phosphate - a very strong cleaner available at most any hardware store. BTW, it could be that your lacquer thinner wash dissolved the previous dye/stain and carried them down into the pores. Bleach usually doesn't work on pigments so you may want to try a mild stripper or wash it again very well with acetone.

From contributor B:
Im not sure that bleach would help. What I do is to paint the black area to match the background color the best you can. Then during the staining, toning and finishing process you can tweak it as you go. It is usually not visible when done.