How do I restore discolored wood tabletop?

Asked July 13, 2014, 5:21 PM EDT

I’m restoring a 50’s era table with a veneer top. I don’t know what kind of wood it is. Would you please advise me on the best way to remove the stain and discoloration that you can see in the two attached pictures?

The second question I have is, what type of finish do you recommend for this table? We are considering teak oil.

Thanks for your assistance.


Washington County Minnesota

1 Response

Sometimes it's impossible to remove stains from wood. However, oxalic acid (wood bleach) is your best option. You can find it in home improvement stores, usually near the wood stains, etc. I've always found it in powdered form, but it may come premixed. Follow the directions on the package, but be aware that it will lighten all of the wood, not just the stained area. But as I said, not all stains will come out. You may have to compromise with getting it light enough that you can put a light stain on everything to even out the color. Also, oxalic acid goes on wet, and requires water to rinse it off, so it's going to raise your grain a bit. Let your wood thoroughly dry and then use the finest grit sandpaper you can to smooth down the grain when you're finished bleaching.
It's difficult to determine wood type from a photo, and the type of wood, and what's been applied to it over the years, are factors that should determine what type of finish you put on it. For a dining table I would generally choose a satin finish polyurethane (water based because oil-based tend to have a yellow cast) because it's going to protect the surface from liquids. But if any furniture wax applied over the years has not been thoroughly stripped out, that could interfere with the poly finish. Note: if you're going to apply multiple coats of polyurethane, start with gloss coats, then finish with a satin coat (unless you like the shiny finish of gloss). Multiple coats of a satin finish will cloud the grain just a bit. That's why you want to save satin for just the final coast