White Marks off Wood Furniture

This question was submitted from Dan

“I have a wood table that is stained and sealed. It has white marks from where a hot pan was set on it. How do I get the stain off my brand new table ? ”

I wish I had good news for you as to a cleaning solution to your problem. Unfortunately, the issue you are dealing with is not going to be remedied by cleaning. I’m fairly certain that your table has been finished with some form of varnish or lacquer, and it sounds like the hot pan placed on your table has burned right into the finish and has left a permanent mark in it. If the pan was exceptionally hot, it may have also burned right down to the wood leaving you with a mark that will only be removed by sanding. Your degree of success and the end result will be governed by the depth of the burn.

There really isn’t a quick fix to this problem, the only remedy is to look at the possibility of refinishing the table. This would involve removing all the old finish with a stripping chemical and applying new finish to obtain the best result. There are other ways to treat areas such as these, but once again, that would depend upon how deep the burned area has penetrated into the finish or wood, as well as how adept you are at refinishing. This is not a project I would recommend you tackle if you have not had previous experience.

If you are familiar with finishing methods, you might try to go over the stained area with some very fine steel wool or very fine wet and dry sand paper. Remember to always sand in the direction of the wood grain. The steel wool or sand paper would be used in combination with a good quality oil finish, such as Danish oil Swedish oil, or Scandinavian oil etc.. The difficulty and real danger here is that most modern furniture, specifically table tops, are usually some form of plywood covered in an extremely thin wood veneer. At times the finish coat of varnish is actually thicker than the wood veneer. There is a real danger if you get too heavy handed with your sand paper or steel wool you will not only remove the finish, you will remove the veneer and ruin your table. Additionally, this method usually results in removing the finish and lightening the colour of the wood stain over the affected area, leaving an off coloured spot where the offending stain or burn was.

You might also look into trying a cut polishing compound, such as the type used in the automotive industry. Once again though, the same dangers will apply as I have mentioned above.

The best recommendation I can give you is to look up a professional familiar with wood restoration and finishing.

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