Oak dust staining hands?

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    Krzysztof K

    Currently I’m working on finishing staircase in my house and that means installing stair treads, posts, handrails and all the finishing bits and pieces.

    I had the pieces glued up and roughly dimensioned by a commercial shop, and they also sanded everything skipping the dusting.

    So I’m getting stains on my fingertips that are gray-bluish and hard to wash off; even worse this transfers to the wood I’m working on! There’s a lot of lifting, going up and down all day to fit the pieces so sweat is also involved. So my suspicion is that the fine dust from the pieces is reacting with the acid in the sweat to get tannin stains – anybody experienced this to validate/disprove?

    I have worked with oak before, but without sanding and it wasn’t such a workout, so that doesn’t count…

    John Moore

    Yes! You are right on the money. It is the oak that is staining your hands and then transfers back to the oak. It is the mixing of oak tannin and sweat. I have to deal with this regularly, living in hot, humid, Florida.

    I wear disposable gloves when working oak.

    Good Luck, I know first hand how frustrating this can be!

    Lakeland, Florida USA

    George Bridgeman

    I have the same problem. As John said, it’s the tannins in the oak reacting with your skin. It doesn’t happen to everyone though. When on Paul’s course at the castle, he said it’s typically people with fair skin or hair that suffer from it. When building the side table project from oak, my hands were almost black from staining!

    Lemon juice helps to remove the stains but only really works if you use a little of it very often – it won’t get heavy stains off completely.

    When working oak now, I don’t bother washing or using gloves until I’ve done all the joinery. Just before assembly, I’ll put on some latex gloves, take a really fine shaving from all components to remove the stains, then assemble and finish.

    It’s very annoying! I’m going to try working beech as an alternative to oak. I can get it as easily and cheaply as oak and it’s apparently nice to work, and it’ll save me from having to faff about when it comes to final assembly and transferring stains all over my tools and shop.


    "To know and not do is to not know"


    hi all, this post was very helpfullas ive been working with oak, having to resaw and resize by hand and my hands were a black purple colour and i couldnt understand why. I have a problem as i perspire to the extreme. will latex gloves cure this problem?

    thanks adrian



    I haven’t tried this but I wonder if baby powder or cornstarch applied to your hands prior to working the oak would help. Just a thought.

    David Gill

    Does it depend upon the type of oak I made an oak side table on Paul’s course and a cutting board in Oak on masterclasses, I did not notice any staining of the hands

    Wigan, Lancs. England :

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