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Lightening Wood

Removing the natural color of wood is best done with the two-part peroxide bleaches. These are available as "A/B" bleaches sold in most paint and hardware stores. The most common way to apply this product is to wet the wood thoroughly with part A (sodium hydroxide) then immediately apply part B (hydrogen peroxide). It's important that part A not sit too long before applying part B because sodium hydroxide will darken some tannin-rich woods like cherry and oak. You can also mix the two parts together and apply them at the same time, as long as you do it as quickly as possible after the two parts are mixed. Usually one application is all that's necessary, but another application may be needed to even out the bleaching effect. Some dark woods, like ebony, are not affected by this bleach which is an advantage if you want to bleach a wood that has ebony stringing. On some woods, particularly walnut, a greenish tinge may appear in some areas if the bleach is not applied evenly. To alleviate this problem, try to apply the bleach evenly and sparingly, just enough to make the wood wet. Do not flood the wood with bleach. Neutralize the alkaline effect of this bleach after the wood is dry by applying a weak acid like vinegar. Use white vinegar mixed one part vinegar to two parts water.

A/B bleach will remove all the natural color variations present in wood, so use them judiciously. Over - bleached woods will lack tonal variations and depth even if stained afterward. I use them only when matching sun-faded wood, or to provide a neutral base upon which I create a decorative finish like pickled oak or blond mahogany. When re-creating the fruitwood finish on bleached cherry explained above, I had to hand glaze selective areas during the finishing process to provide some color variation. A/B bleaches can be used to compensate for heartwood/sapwood variations, but I prefer to bring the sapwood in line with the heartwood by hand coloring or spraying the sapwood with a dye stain.

Taken from here.