How to Remove Scorch Marks From Wood

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This is How to Remove Scorch Marks From Wood. In this post, I’ll show you how to remove burn marks from a piece of wood. Depending on the severity, burn marks are actually fairly easy to remove, and you have several choices.

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How to Remove Scorch Marks From Wood

How-to-Remove-Scorch-Marks-From-WoodOn occasion, you’ll be fortunate enough that you have to remove some burn marks from a piece of wood that you may have scorched accidentally during some woodworking process.

This is most commonly associated with bending wood, and in particular with using a hot pipe. When you make too much contact with the pipe, it can cause the wood to scorch, and that will leave burn marks that have to be removed.

Thankfully, the process itself is not very difficult, and you have a few different choices depending on the severity of the damage. That leads us to our very first step, which is figuring out just how bad you messed up.

See Also: 10 Helpful Tips for Using a Wood Bending Iron

Assessing the Damage First

The very first thing you need to do before you try to remove any scorch marks from a piece that you’re working on is to see how bad the damage is. After all, light damage and heavy damage will have two different solutions.

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Even as a complete beginner, you’ll be able to look at the burned area and tell right away how deep it is. That’s really what you’re looking for. The deeper the scorching, the more severe the damage, and the more intense the removal method.

Take a look at what you have, and get a good idea of what the damage looks like. The coming solutions are organized from the lightest amount of damage to the most severe amount of damage.

Until you really know what your damage level looks like, I recommend starting with some of the lighter options for removing the scorch marks, and if they don’t work, escalate into more aggressive methods until you’re able to remove them.

See Also: 15 Important Reasons to Make Your Own Tools

Wipe the Area With Steel Wool and Water

For light burning damage, many times you can get away with just wiping the area with steel wool and a little bit of water. The water helps wash away the ash, and the steel wool is just enough abrasive to work it loose.

You don’t need to hose the project, just get it a little wet. Also, don’t think of ash like campfire ash. It’s just the burned area and any discoloration that typically comes loose when it gets wet. This is technically ash.

Work the piece with the steel wool, adding a little bit more water as needed. If you can see the scorch marks lightening, you’re probably on the right track, and it shouldn’t take very long to completely remove them.

If this isn’t aggressive enough, proceed to the next step.

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See Also: The Ultimate Guide to Sandpaper Grits

Sand the Area With 220 Grit

Most of the time, it’s going to require some sort of sanding to remove any scorched areas from a piece of wood on one of your projects. That’s OK though, because sanding is common anyway, and it’s a process that you’re familiar with.

Start with a medium grade of sandpaper like 220 grit. This is aggressive enough that it can get rid of some material, but it’s also not too aggressive that it’s going to leave a lot of scratch marks that have to be dealt with later on.

If the 220 is doing the job, don’t switch to anything that’s more aggressive. Instead, just stay the course with the 220 and eventually your scorch marks will be gone.

See Also: 17 Important Tips on How to Sand Wood

Power Sand With 80 Grit

On occasion, you may end up with a burn that goes so deep that 220 grit sandpaper really doesn’t do very much to remove it. Or, it takes a really long time with 220 grit, so using that grit level is a waste of time.

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In a case like this, just jump directly to 80 grit paper and power through that damaged area until it’s gone. This way, you’ll be able to remove the burn marks, and you’ll do it in a way that is both thorough and effective.

There will definitely be some marks that need to be cleaned up afterwards, but all you need to do is use finer and finer grit of sandpaper until you get down to a surface that has an acceptable level of smoothness for you.

See Also: How to Get the Best Deal on Sandpaper for Wood

Run the Piece Through a Thickness Planer

If the damage is really bad, and you absolutely know that sanding is going to be a waste of time, consider passing the piece of wood through a planer.

This won’t be an option on pieces of wood that are bent, but it may be an option on a larger, flat piece of wood that has scorch marks from some other misadventure in woodworking.

In a case like this, you may just have to send it through the planer a few times in order to remove the top 16th or eighth of an inch. That should be plenty to take away the burn marks, and restore the wood to its former glory.

Obviously you are going to lose size when you do it this way, but if you want to get rid of the burn marks, some sacrifices will have to be made.

See Also: 11 Killer Tips for Using a Wood Planer in Your Shop

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When All Else Fails Just Add Paint

Here comes the nuclear option. If there is absolutely nothing you can do to remove the burn marks, and the scorching is just far too deep, there may only be one way to cover it and still keep the same piece.

If this happens, paint is a fantastic option. Paint will cover the scorched and clear areas just the same, and when it’s all said and done, you won’t notice a difference in color anymore.

Yes, it’s not going to look like wood, but it will make it so you don’t notice the marks anymore. This is obviously not ideal, so do everything you can to remove those marks before you are stuck with just covering them up.

See Also: How to Make Mirror Frames the Easy Way

Your Action Assignment

Now that you know all about removing scorch marks from wood, it’s time to get out into your shop and take action. If you have a piece that has some light burning, start with one of these methods and try to remove it.

In most cases, sanding is going to be all that you need to remove any scorching from your peace. However, you may need to go a little bit more aggressively, or sand for a while longer in order to fully treat the affected area.

If you have any questions about removing burning or scorches from your wood, please post a question and I’ll be happy to answer them. Happy building.

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  • More than 20 Years Woodworking Experience
  • 7 Woodworking Books Available on Amazon
  • Over 1 Million Words Published About Woodworking
  • Bachelor of Arts Degree from Arizona State University
Buy My Books on Amazon

I receive Commissions for Purchases Made Through the Links in This Post.

 

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