I put a clear finish on a beautiful ash table I made and
found faint stripes an inch or two wide going across each
board. Any ideas on what caused them and how to get rid
Those stripes probably won’t come out with sanding,
because there’s a good chance they run quite deep into the
wood.You didn’t accidentally put them there,nor did the tree
produce them.These stripes were created when your wood
was dried under imperfect conditions.
The stripes are, in effect, a chemical shadow from the
stickers that separated the boards in a kiln or a stack of airdried
lumber. “Sticker stain” or “sticker shadow” can run
anywhere from 1/32-in. deep to half the board’s thickness.
This permanent discoloration is more of a problem in
light-colored sapwood than dark heartwood. Your lightcolored
ash, like most maple and birch, is actually the tree’s
sapwood. Look carefully at this kind of wood for sticker
stain before you buy.
Sticker stain can be hard to spot on the surface of rough
lumber,however. Be on the lookout for faint stripes across the
width of the boards when you run light-colored woods
through a planer. If the stripes persist after a few passes, stop
and see if your lumber dealer will replace the boards. If not,
your only option may be to hide the stripes with a dark stain.
This story originally appeared in American Woodworker June 2002, issue #94.