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- Removing Rust Stains from Wood -

As woodturners, we often acquire timber from homeowners who have had a tree come down in a storm or a tree that has been cut down for a property owner. Unfortunately, urban timber occasionally contains nails or some type of metal material. When you are turning a piece of urban timber and you find a black or blue stain caused by a nail or a piece of metal that was in a tree, don’t throw the piece in the burn pile. There is a quick, easy and inexpensive solution to get rid of the metal staining. Remove the nail, or if the piece you turned was without a nail but had metal staining, here is the cure.

There is a cleaning powder (invented in 1882) called Bar Keepers Friend ( which can be purchased at home improvement stores in the cleaning product aisle or online. The cost is less than $2.00 for a 21 oz. (595G) container of the miracle white powder (pictured). The active ingredient in Bar Keepers Friend is oxalic acid which reacts with metal, rust, and the staining from metal that may be found in the harvesting of urban timber.

Bar Keepers Friend

Pictured is a black oak bowl turned from fresh-cut timber. I discovered a large eye bolt in the tree that had left a big stain in the timber that the bowl was turned from. When you are turning and you discover a metal stain, continue to turn your bowl as usual. It does not matter if you are turning fresh-cut or dry timber. Continue turning, sand as usual then set the piece aside. Using rubber gloves and eye protection, put a few ounces of Bar Keepers Friend in a small container, add water and stir to make a slurry the consistency of a runny toothpaste. Sand the metal-stained area of your bowl with 220 grit and, using a spray bottle filled with water, spray the stained area until damp. Apply a thick coat of the slurry mixture completely covering the stained area (as pictured) and allow it to work its magic for about 30 minutes.

Stain 1

Stain 2

Stain 3

Stain 4

For visual effects and demonstration purposes, I used clear tape (pictured above) to mask off half of the metal-stained area leaving the other half of the area exposed then covered the exposed area only with the white slurry mixture. After 30 minutes, I wiped off the white slurry mixture using a damp towel and water to reveal the removal of half of the stain. After washing off the slurry mixture, allow your bowl to dry for several days. After the bowl has dried, hand sand as you normally would before applying a finish. Any residual residue is easily sanded off in preparation for whatever finish you prefer to use. Bar Keepers Friend does not react with lacquer, epoxy, shellac, oils, dyes or polyurethane. Fight the blues with Bar Keepers Friend!

Finished bowl



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