I completely forgot about a slab of ash I had stored on the floor and it looks like water has seeped into the edge. It was stored horizontally on an edge, leaning against the wall. The edge against the floor is the area of the stain.

It's a rough sawn, live edge slab that hasn't had the bark removed or been through the planer yet. Will the water damage be removed with sanding, something else or is the stain there for good?

Slab with water stain

  • 1
    Let the piece dry again. Air-drying, properly stickered (supported) for airflow and with end grain sealed so it doesn't dry too quickly and start splitting, typically requires about a year per inch of thickness. Running heated air over it may speed up that process but may make the splitting hazard worse.
    – keshlam
    Commented Oct 25, 2016 at 1:50
  • @keshlam The "year per inch of thickness" thing is only a rough approximation to begin with, but it only applies to wood drying from green, not to dried wood that has then become wet.
    – Graphus
    Commented Oct 25, 2016 at 18:17

2 Answers 2


Usually with any stain of this sort removing the surface should reveal pristine wood.

Normally you won't need to go down that far since neither watery nor oily things penetrate very deeply on long-grain surfaces. Since you intend to send it through the planer that should remove the affected wood.

  • Certainly worth trying, though I'm worrying about wicking.... I'd be delighted to be wrong!
    – keshlam
    Commented Oct 25, 2016 at 14:16

Water damage can be removed with little or no sanding by using oxalic acid, which is easy to find in most stores in the cleaning aisle under the name Bar Keeper's Friend.

I typically use oxalic acid with a bit of water to make a paste, then scrub the wood, wipe it clean, and then let it dry. Then I'll do a quick cleaning with Murphy's Oil Soap. I've done this cleaning schedule on a number of pieces that I've found on trash day and am always surprised by how well it works.

Even if I'm planning to plane the wood, I still usually do this cleaning first. The reason is because I'll end up focusing on getting rid of the "dirty" areas on the wood when planing rather than fixing flatness.

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