How do I remove water stains from wood?

Q:

A recent basement flood left a dark “waterline” on some walnut frames that were waiting to be finished. Is there a way to erase the blemish?
—Beth Krehbiel, Deer Creek, Okla.

A:

If there is no damage, such as swelling or spreading joints, you might have gotten lucky, Beth. Try this: Re-sand all the surfaces through 80, 120, 180, and 220 grit, paying special attention to the watermarked areas. This should remove most of the surface stain and knock down any raised fibers. Then, wipe on a generous coating of boiled linseed oil. Allow it to penetrate for 5–10 minutes before wiping it off with a paper towel. For dark woods, like your walnut, the penetrating finish blends any remaining stains into the wood grain.

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