For starters this is not green-wood.

I have been cutting up some 2x4 into small blocks for painting and decoration. The block were cut and then sanded. About 3 days later I had the time to paint them. Today I noticed that some sap has seeped through.

The wood was not fresh (it was from a pallet fyi.) but the cuts opened up some sections of pith it would seem.

Is there anything different I could have done to have either forced the sap out or a better sealant before I painted.

  • 1
    Don't use pine/fir? :)
    – bowlturner
    Commented Apr 17, 2015 at 13:22
  • If your wood contains the pith, you may want to reconsider using it. woodworking.stackexchange.com/questions/74/…
    – saltface
    Commented Apr 17, 2015 at 14:28
  • @saltface I use reclaimed wood in all my projects. Given a proper budget yes I would use something else. This just happens to be be what I have.
    – Matt
    Commented Apr 17, 2015 at 14:29
  • Goo gone to get off and a sealant worked for me with my spruce board..Rarely happens I find with spruce but..Hope it helps Commented Apr 9, 2017 at 14:38
  • 2
    @Ecnerwal That would have to be a big microwave...
    – user3187
    Commented Apr 11, 2017 at 11:03

4 Answers 4


This is actually a very common occurrence in woods like pine and fir. Many would suggest that you do not use these woods for reasons just like this one. If you persist then heat is the solution. Note: this is based on untreated wood.

Not all lumber is kiln dried and even if it was you cannot guarantee the temperature it was dried at (or duration for that matter). Sap typically "sets" when heated 160°F/71°C. So if you see sap seeping out then you need to heat it up.

You need to clean it before you do any finishing (paint/stain etc). Mineral spirits is suggested as it is not likely to damage the wood.

Some woods can have the sap coming out from everywhere. If you have the means to kiln dry the wood then it would be the best course of action. It is not ideal since the effort and cost associated with saving some pine is most likely not practical. Many people have had success properly sealing it with shellac just like GLW mentions in their answer.

If you just have some small pieces like me then you could use a heat gun (Has to be a strong one) or a blowtorch. The latter can damage the wood since it is flame based but in general heat is the point.

or like BowlTurner says: Don't use pine/fir? :)

  • 1
    I know this is old but didn't want to start a new thread which would just be called a duplicate of this one. As i have a huge stack of pine in the garden (from my own trees) can i just heat the wood in my oven for this? Should I cover it in tinfoil to stop it ruining my oven? I Only want to do 1 or 2 slices for a craft project. Edited: to finish question.
    – WendyG
    Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 9:33
  • and for how long?
    – WendyG
    Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 9:49

It is said (by Bob Flexner in his book "Understanding Wood Finishes") that shellac is the best overall sealer. It can also be used between any two other finishes to prevent them from reacting with each other.

I have no experience with sealing sap into the wood but his statements would lead one to believe that it would work. At any rate, it is very easy to apply and dries very fast so that's a plus.


Bowlturner's answer is really the best. When purchasing lumber from a quality lumberyard you can ask if the "resin has been set". There is a little extra heat & time applied. This would be possible with any woods that are typically heavy sap woods (pine cedar etc). Sometimes it's a little more work but you can find the wood that's had the extra heat applied. If not FWW has a nice article about using your oven. I also remember a woodtalkshow podcast where one of the guys who works at a lumberyard explained all this but I can't find the exact episode atm sorry.

Not enough rep to comment etc so yeah


I burned my pine sign and the pitch was sealed. (The wood I used was old pine siding that I planned thin). Mineral spirits takes most of the pitch off but working at inspecting loads of wood I have learned that hand sanitizer disintegrates pitch fast. I tried it on a pine sign and it worked like a charm with no damage to the wood and it removed all the pitch.

  • Interesting about the hand sanitizer. Have you ever tried straight denatured alcohol? Should be cheaper than hand sanitizer too; assuming it works as well.
    – Jason C
    Commented Oct 24, 2018 at 13:50

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