How To Use Mineral Spirits On Wood? (6 EASY Steps!)

how to use mineral spirits on wood

Mineral spirits are one of the most essential liquids in the woodworking world. It is used for staining and painting wood. Mineral spirit helps to clean the wood, change the color of the wood, thin the stain, and various purposes. When I was first working with mineral spirits, I was curious about, How to use mineral spirits on wood?

Here’s what I’ve learned:

Use mineral spirits to clean the wood by pouring mineral spirits onto a soft, clean cloth and wiping the surface for a refreshing look. Add more mineral spirits to the cloth and scrub until the cloth no longer gets dirty because of residue. Use a small brush to access hard-to-reach areas.

But there’s more to know about using mineral spirits on wood than just that.

So, in this article, we’ll discuss how to use mineral spirits on wood with the most accurate method to renew dull wood finishes and clean the wood properly.

Furthermore, I’ll answer some frequently asked questions regarding the application of mineral spirits as well.

So, let’s jump in!

What Do Mineral Spirits Do to Wood?

Mineral spirit is an effective solvent that uses to clean the wood in different woodworking and wood finishing projects.

Basically, mineral spirits bring the original luster of the wood by cleaning off the grime that build-up through the years.

When you apply mineral spirits to wood, it works as a solvent that dissolves wood stain, paint, and many other oil-based products. When mineral spirits interact with molecular particles of those finishes, they’ll loosen their bond with wood, and they cut through the finishing lines. Then, you’ll be able to remove them easily and clean the wood without getting a dull look.

Ultimately mineral spirits are capable of giving a fresh look to any kind of wood by eliminating dirt and residue.

In conclusion here’re the things that mineral spirits do to wood.

  • Clean the wood surface by dissolving with the existing wood finish and make remove from the surface.
  • Mineral spirits clean the wood before staining and make the surface ready to accept the stain
  • Mineral spirits temporary change the color of the wood to highlight flaws and finishing lines
  • Stain dark wood lighter
  • Thin wood stain
  • Renew dull wood finishes

Now you know why mineral spirits popular in woodworking this much. It has some awesome properties that give surprising results for any type of woodwork or furniture.

So, let’s find out how to play with mineral spirits to get the best out of it.

How To Use Mineral Spirits on Wood?

We use mineral spirits on wood for various tasks such as restoration projects, preparing wood before staining, cleaning projects, showing wood grain, cleaning oils from oily woods, and many more.

Whatever the project we’re willing to use mineral spirits for, the applying process is almost similar.

So, let’s find out how to use mineral spirits on wood without making any mistakes.

The Supplies You Will Need

  • Mineral spirits product
  • Soft, dry lint-free cloth
  • 200 grit sandpaper
  • Scrap wood
  • Latex gloves
  • Clean rags
  • Tack cloths
  • A toothbrush or small brush

Tip:

When you’re buying mineral spirits from a hardware store, avoid products that are marked as green or eco-friendly because they aren’t pure mineral spirits and may ruin your project due to quality issues.

Procedure Of Using Mineral Spirits on Wood

  1. Clean the wood
  2. Sand the wood surface
  3. Dampen the lint-free soft cloth with mineral spirits
  4. Test mineral spirits on scrap wood
  5. Apply mineral spirit by wiping on wood
  6. Let the wood dry completely

By following the above method, you can clean the wood before staining and restore wood projects to get a nice fresh look.

So, let’s discuss each of the above steps one by one to get an idea about how to use mineral spirits on wood.

1. Clean The Wood

Before applying mineral spirits, the wood surface needs to be cleaned and free from dust and debris to accept mineral spirits. Otherwise, the mineral spirit can be contaminated. Therefore, surface preparation is a must before using mineral spirits on wood.

Clean the wood by wiping down the surface with a clean rag. Make sure to cover up the entire surface without missing any spots. Or you can use a vacuum cleaner to make the surface free from dust.

Even though you’re using mineral spirits on wood to prepare the surface before staining or for a restoration project you should clean the surface first.

After cleaning the whole wood surface you’re good to step onto the sanding step.

2. Sand The Wood Surface

Now sand the entire wooden surface with 220 grit sandpaper. Sanding is important to open pore structures of wood and make them available to accept mineral spirits. Sanding eliminates saw marks from manufacturing that cannot be seen by the naked eye.

If you’re going to use mineral spirits on wood to prepare the surface before staining or restoration purposes, make sure to sand along the direction of the wood grain without scratching the surface.

Never use higher grade sandpaper, because it’ll kill the wood grain and ruin the appearance of the wood, and resist wood from taking stain evenly.

Sanding will make the surface super smooth and ready to accept the mineral spirits.  

When you’re done with sanding, clean the sawdust with a vacuum or wipe the surface with a tack cloth to pick up and clean away the sawdust.

3. Dampen The Lint-Free Soft Cloth with Mineral Spirits

Now your wood surface is ready for the application process. Take the soft dry lint-free cloth and pour mineral spirits onto it until it gets saturated with mineral spirits.

Once the cloth is fully saturated with mineral spirits, you’re good to move on to the next most important step.

4. Test Mineral Spirits on Scrap Wood

Before applying mineral spirits directly to your main project, test it with scrap wood to see how it changes the color of the wood and what type of finish will it give at the end.

Better to use scrap wood same as the wood you used on the project to get to know what it will exactly look like on the woodwork. Because different woods take mineral spirits differently.

Plus, if you’re using mineral spirits for a customer, this would be an opportunity to take a picture and say here’s what this is going to look like when it’s done or when it’s under finished.

This way you minimize the mistakes and get a clear idea of how mineral spirit interacts with wood fibers.

5. Apply Mineral Spirits on Wood

If you’re happy with the results you got by testing mineral spirits with scrap wood it’s time to move on to the application process.

Take the clean lint-free soft cloth and dampen another portion of mineral spirits onto it. Pour mineral spirits until the cloth gets saturated and wipe down or scrub the entire wooden area without missing any spots.

When you’re wiping the wood with a dampened rag, wipe along the direction of the wood grain gently for better acceptance of the wood and to avoid residue from going back onto the wooden surface with the cloth.

When you’re wiping the surface, you’ll notice dust, debris, and residue will pick up to the cloth and clean up the entire surface evenly.

Never use back and forth or circular motions when wiping the surface because that may ruin the wood. Plus, as soon as when the cloth gets dirty, change it with a new one by saturating it with another portion of mineral spirits to make the process efficient.  

Add additional amounts of mineral spirits and saturate lint-free soft cloths as much as needed to make the surface nice and clean.

In some cases, if the grime has built up for years, it’s so hard to remove them from the surface. In those cases, apply a higher portion of mineral spirits onto those areas and scrub gently until they break the bonds with wood and remove them from the surface. The dissolving power of mineral spirits is super cool.

Repeat the application procedure until wood fibers get saturated with mineral spirits. This same application process can be followed when cleaning the surface before staining and for the restoration projects to remove the dull look of woodworks and furniture.

To reach detailed and hard-to-reach areas, use an old toothbrush or small brush. Wipe and scrub until the build-ups come out.

Once you’re done applying mineral spirits, you’ll notice a significant change in wood because mineral spirits temporarily change the color of the wood. this is important to identify flaws and finishing lines.

6. Let the Wood Dry Completely

After using mineral spirits on wood, let the wood dry completely. the wooden surface needs to be dry properly to accept a stain or any kind of finish you want.

The average drying time of mineral spirits is about 20 minutes. Wait no longer than 20 minutes to finish the surface because mineral spirits dry quite fast.

Drying is important to achieve the outcome of mineral spirits. You’ll notice mineral spirits enhance the grain of the wood and give refreshing to your woodwork or furniture by removing its dullness.

When the wood dries mineral spirits bring the original luster of the wood by cleaning off the grime that build-up through the years.

That’s it, folks! Now you know everything about how to use mineral spirits on wood without making any mistakes. This is the most simple and accurate method you can follow even though you’re a beginner in woodworking.

So, let’s answer some frequently asked questions regarding the use of mineral spirits on wood.

Can You use Mineral Spirits to Remove the Stain?

Yes, mineral spirits can weaken the bond between the stain and wood and remove the stain from the surface. When the surface is tacky and sticky, use mineral spirits to remove the excess stain.

It works as a solvent that mixes with stains and helps to remove them and clean the surface.

To remove stain from any wood, pour mineral spirits onto a lint-free soft cloth and scrub the stained area. It’s clean stubborn stains from any wood.

Can Mineral Spirits Damage Wood?

Mineral spirits do not damage any wood. It is safe on wood. mineral spirits work only with finishes by softening them to lose bonds with the wood surface.

Mineral spirits only raise the grain that can be sanded off.

But if you’re working with an oily wood, I have to admit that mineral spirits remove oils from the wood. This doesn’t damage the wood because that is also a part of its wood cleaning process.

Overall, mineral spirits are good to clean wood for any woodworking project.

How To Use Mineral Spirits to Remove Paint?

To remove paint, dampen a soft, clean lint-free cloth with mineral spirit and scrub the painted surface until it removes from the surface. Do this before mineral spirits dry.

Mineral spirits help to soften the paint coatings and break bonds between the paint and wood. Therefore, paints will easily remove from the surface. You can try this method to remove oil paints from any wood.

Does Mineral Spirits Darken Wood?

Mineral spirits temporarily darken the wood. But as soon as the wood gets dried it will come back to its natural color. So, mineral spirits do not discolor the wood.

When you’re applying mineral spirits on wood, the wood fibers get saturated turning their color darker and richer temporarily to highlight flaws. In the long term, mineral spirits do not affect the physical appearance of the wood. It only eliminates the dull look and cleans the surface to give a refreshing look to the wood.

Alternatives For Mineral Spirits on Wood

The best alternatives for mineral spirits are,

  • Turpentine
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Acetone
  • Charcoal lighter fluid
  • Soap and water

Did I cover all you wanted to know about: How to Use Mineral Spirits on Wood?

In this article, we have deeply explored how to use mineral spirits on wood using the most simple and accurate method. I’ve explained each step separately to minimize the application mistakes.

Minerals spirits work great on wood for restoration projects, preparing wood before staining, cleaning projects, showing wood grain, cleaning oils from oily woods, and many more. Pour mineral spirit onto a lint-free soft cloth and wipe down the wood surface evenly to achieve results as you wish.

Furthermore, I have answered some hot frequently asked questions about mineral spirits on wood as well.

Hope you have learned everything about how to use mineral spirits on wood using the correct procedure.  Make sure to particle the things you have learned from this article with scrap wood before heading into the main project. Practice makes you perfect!

Walter Parker is a woodworking enthusiast. He is passionate about woodworking projects & plays with woodworking tools having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Woodworking Planet. He wants to make people love woodworking! Read More About Him!

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