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OK, just a few things to add to the other good info above:
1. Oxalic acid is also known as wood bleach -- that may be an easier starting poiint when you talk to the fine folks at the hardware store.
2. I've found two-part wood bleaches to be a little easier to use than oxalic acid crystals. You mix the two parts together and then apply them to the wood and let them do their thing. Sometimes it takes more than one application to get the results you want. You may (or may not, depending on the product's instructions) need to neutralize the acid after it dries with a solution of water/white vinegar.
3. Any time you apply water to bare wood you will raise the grain, and should sand it back down smooth before you apply your finish.
4. If you want to see what color the surface will be once the finish starts going on, wipe it with a rag dampened with mineral spirits. This will darken the wood, but won't raise the grain like water will.
5. Before you lay that first coat of finish, make sure you thoroughly brush off -- or better yet , vacuum -- any dust on the surface of the wood.
For ease of application, you can't beat Cetol Natural Teak. Four coats, with 24 hrs dry time between, and you're good to go. The downside is that you've got to take ALL of the existing finish off (unless it's already Cetol.)
If you want to go the traditional route and use varnish, Epifanes Wood Gloss has served us well. As long as you apply a follow-up coat after 24 hrs but before 72 hrs, you don't need to sand and dust the surface between coats.
Hope it all comes out well for you.
Last edited by PorFin; 03-16-2010 at 08:56 AM.