Removing White Rings

Step 1: Try the simplest fix first. Dampen a rag with denatured alcohol and pass over the ring lightly several times. Don’t soak the surface. If this method works, it will happen fairly quickly. If nothing happens, move on to Step 2. 

Figure 7.3. Pumice, a fine abrasive, lubricated with mineral oil, will grind out a white ring, but, if the ring goes through to the wood, you’ll have to refinish. 

Step 2: Try rubbing the spot with oil and pumice as described in Full Rub-Out for Brush-On Finishes, on page 124 (see Figure 7.3). If this removes the damage before cutting all the way through the topcoat, it may still leave a sheen different from the rest of the surface. If a rub with rottenstone doesn’t eliminate the difference, rub out the entire table surface to whatever sheen you prefer. If you do cut through the topcoat, you may have to replace color (see page 171), and you’ll certainly have to apply a new topcoat. Most white rings occur in finishes that have low resistance to heat, water, or alcohol. The damage may be entirely within the topcoat and be easily repaired, or it may have penetrated all the way to the wood. You won’t know until you try to remove it. 

Tools and Materials 

• Denatured alcohol

• Mineral oil 

• Pumice

• Rottenstone

• Rags

This article is excerpted from "Foolproof Wood Finishing".

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