Why did Kleanstrip remover change my wood (rosewood) to dark grey? How can I reverse this?

Alan Chenkin, Owned a cabinet shop for 10 years, is an avid woodworker.
Rosewood is unique in the wood world, as this wood is a dense hardwood that can take 300 years to mature.[1] [2]
Kleanstrip remover is used for removing adhesives from most surfaces. In the case of Rosewood, the adhesive remover (especially if it contains chemicals that are related to lemon oil) will strip any light finish off the wood, like bleaching the wood. (I am assuming your Rosewood furniture had a thin finish, from age or wear; many modern polyurethanes and lacquers are usually impervious to light oil strippers) . Kleanstrip is brushed on thick and left on the wood for 30 minutes; in that time, it will soften and eat through the finish, and bleach the wood. Even though I usually require more detail, that is what appears to have happened here.
“Sunlight bleaches rosewood and transforms its naturally dark, rich tone into a sandy tan color. The best way to restore the color is with wood dye, which soaks deeper into the wood pores than pigment satin. After brushing or spraying the dye, two or three subsequent coats of wiping varnish, each followed by light sanding with 400-grit sandpaper will seal in the color. You can also wipe on thin shellac and rub it in — a technique known as French polishing. Rosewood is such an attractive material that an industrial-strength coating like polyurethane seldom suits it.” – From SFGATE Home Guide on Sanding Rosewood.
Here is a discussion on Rosewood and oil finishes, worth a quick read, From Design Addict.
It also appears that the stripper is still active, and needs to be “deactivated” with Oxalic Acid, or Kleanstrip After-wash (Klean-Strip QKSW94341 Paint Stripper After Wash, 1-Quart). The additional solvents you used actually thinned the stripper and allowed it to “bleed” into the adjacent wood, making the bleaching more noticeable. When you apply the After-wash or acid, you can use clean sawdust rubbed over the wood to absorb the residue, or clean rags to blot with. Once you deactivate the stripping action, very light sanding and finishing can commence. If the stripper pulled a lot of the oils and coloring out of the wood, and the wood itself is too dark, you can lighten it with a peroxide solution from a hair salon – BUT DO THIS WITH EXTREME CAUTION; just as blonde hair is damaged by too much “work”, it can over-lighten the wood and make it stressed. Your goal is to bring back the original, warm finish, and another lightening step may cause additional damage. And you have to deactivate the peroxide with warm water. This is an extreme step, and only if you fear there is no other way to get to a good “starting point” with the raw wood.Remember to leave a day or two between stripping and cleaning, so the wood has a chance to breathe in between the steps.
Now that we have some background on Rosewood and some options, let me weigh in on what I would personally do. If your piece has a large area to refinish, I would hand-sand lightly with a 320 or finer grit sandpaper. If it is a thin veneer, you would need to be extra careful, as you could sand through the veneer to the substrate.
Then I would wipe the piece with a clean rag with alcohol on it, to remove any oils and dust.
Once you are down to an even and clean finish, you need to make a judgement call as to just seal in the wood with alcohol-based shellac, or Tung oil, or bring up the reddish color by using a wiping finish,
Traditionalists use shellac[3] ; it’s an old finish that works well to seal in wood. several coats usually do the trick, and it can be colored with dyes like burnt umber to add tone.
Tung Oil[4] dries when exposed to air, and seals-in the natural shade of the wood (as long as the bleaching is gone).
Wiping Polyurethanes, such as Minwax Polyshades can be worked into the wood using a rag, and act as a “tinting” Finish that will color over the Gray wood. Semi-transparent stains will also work.

You may want to buy some pieces of Rosewood, strip them with any remaining Kleanstrip, and test your finish options. You can even buy Rosewood pieces on Amazon.

Bolivian Rosewood, From Amazon.


Once the piece is finished to your liking, you can protect the finish with wax(just like waxing a car). (Don’t use lemon wax or polish – lemon and citrus can have a bad reaction with rosewood if the polish gets past the sealer/finish)
My personal choice would be a tinted oil finish -like Tung oil or Danish oil- to penetrate into the wood and bring back the rich red color. Several coats may be necessary to build up a rich finish, and even out the wood finish.
If the project is larger than what you want to undertake, or if it is a very valuable piece of furniture, consider using a professional furniture finisher. It may give you piece of mind and less stress, if you never did this before.
Thanks for the A2A, and good luck with your project! (This Post is an edited version of my answer to this question on Quora.com)

[4] Tung oil – Wikipedia

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