A fix for color bleeding from padauk

Scraping, rather than sanding, reduces cross-species contamination caused by fine, powdery sawdust. Either way, vacuum your piece thoroughly, and wipe it with acetone prior to finishing.


I recently built a maple box with padauk accents. Everything went well until I applied a finish. That’s when color from the bright orange padauk bled all over the white maple. Ugh! How do I prevent the bleeding?
—Aldo Miller, Cleveland, Ohio


Yikes, Aldo, sorry about your troubles. Oily, vibrantly colored woods, such as padauk, purpleheart, and bloodwood, can cross-contaminate nearby woods in a couple of ways: colorful oils leeching into the glue and finish, and dust from sanding settling into pores of adjacent woods.

To prevent color-bleeding, immediately before glue-up, thoroughly wipe down every surface of the padauk with acetone to remove any oil on the surface. 

After finish-sanding the completed project, thoroughly vacuum the surfaces to remove all dust that might muddy the finish on lighter-colored woods. Then repeat the acetone wipedown to remove any residual oil that wicked to the surface in the meantime. Finally, use tape to mask off the padauk elements of the piece before applying an initial seal coat of finish. Remove the tape, and finish the entire piece as usual. Protected by the seal coat, the surrounding, lighter-colored woods resist contamination.

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