This question was submitted from Ray
“I have removed all the varnish from a Victorian wash stand – all is well except dark stains deep in the wood on the top surface – can they be removed?”
It depends on how deep the stains are. You didn’t specify, but if the stains were made AFTER you removed the protective finish, it is possible that they are very deep. Without a protective finish wood is very porous and absorbs liquids and stains well past the surface. You can try sanding them out, start by sanding the surface of the table in the area of the stain.
Try these techniques :
Using a 60 grit sandpaper will remove a lot of material quickly. In theory you should go over the entire surface equally. However, as long as the finish is removed from the entire surface, if slightly more material is removed where the stain marks are, no one is likely to notice the imperfection. Mind you they may, if the stains extend well below the surface.
Once the blemish is removed, move to a 150 grit paper, and sand the entire surface. If you are uncertain of matching the existing finish (colour and gloss) you should sand the rest of the piece as well (legs, sides, etc.) and refinish the entire wash stand.
Before finishing, and usually between finish coats, sand with a 220 grit sandpaper. This should leave a perfectly smooth finish.
Wipe the stand with a tack rag to remove all of the dust, and refinish in a well ventilated and dust free environment.
There are dozens of different finishes, many with different application techniques, so follow the manufacturers directions. Almost universally they call for many thin coats, instead of a few thick coats.
If you are concerned with starting to sand, and not knowing how deep you might have to go, check with your local home centre, or antique restoration company for products that can lighten the stain before re-finishing the piece. A darker finish stain may even conceal the blemish. Best of luck, and remember if all else fails, a strategically placed soap dish will always do the trick for you!!