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Removing Bitumen from wood - help please

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Sparky13/02/2008 21:23:00
7631 forum posts
22 photos

Hi Guys/Gals

On my last project, I was given some left over wooden flooring tiles which had a Nylon'ish mesh with glue and was easy to remove just by scraping (all 400 of them ).

I've just been lucky enough to have had some more (850 ) but, these are Bitumen backed (with some sort of glue) and a varnished face.

Now, removing the varnish was done by scraping along with the sides and ends but, What would you recommend using to remove the Bitumen knowing it will be cleaned up, smoothed then glued together into blocks.

I've thought of Meths, White Spirit, Sugar Soap and lastly (no cursing please) Cilit Bang.

I know Cilit will clean up tar by softening it up but, I'm not sure whether it will stop the gluing afterwards and come to think about it, the rest too.

Over to you kind people

Thankyou in advance


Mike Garnham13/02/2008 22:55:00
4114 forum posts
1 photos


hi......I've had this many years ago, and I think from memory I tried 2 techniques.

Firstly, soaking in white spirit and then scraping and wire-brushing the resulting gunk results in the pretty effective transfer of most of the bitumen from the wood onto your hands, arms, face, hair et. Unfortunately, it also had the tendency to soak slightly into the surface of the wood (which was pretty porous.....American Red Oak), but at least when it had all dried it was good enough to be planed off without wrecking the plane.

The second solution  involved taking a blow-torch to it, and burning off the bitumen. Be bloody careful! I wouldn't recommend doing this on your workshop floor amongst a pile of shavings, nor under the overhanging eaves of your thatched roof!  Again, this leaves a surface that can then be planed.

Critically important to choose either of the above methods, and not try them both together!!!!!!!!

I'm sure you will have internet access in the burns once the bandages come off do let me know how you get on!



Sparky13/02/2008 23:12:00
7631 forum posts
22 photos

Thanks Mike, I'll send you my flowers

I'm just going to have a play around with some tomorrow, leaving some in the fluids longer than others to see if that works too.

Appreciate your experience.



Bob19/02/2008 17:13:00
85 forum posts


Do you remember, as a kid, your mother having a yellow tin (about the size of a 'Brasso' tin), with black writing; that she used to get tar off your clothes/shoes etc?

If you have a good ironmongers near you, try them to find out what it was, then rip off the active ingredient; and buy in bulk. (Well, as long as the job lasts.)

If you find that it was 'Trike', you've had it, as its not readily available now.


Sparky19/02/2008 21:58:00
7631 forum posts
22 photos

Hi Bob

Many thanks for your comment.

Sadly I wasn't allowed out to play when I was a kid

I have finished getting all the Bitumen off now. The best to work was Sugar soap after being scored and a good soaking.......all 800 clean and awaiting gluing up.


Mike Garnham20/02/2008 08:25:00
4114 forum posts
1 photos


I hope all that work was worth while! You must have wanted that wood really badly!

(Hope you didn't pour the Cilit Bang & Bitumen gunk down the drain, or your next DIY job could be even more unpleasant!!!)

 I look forward to seeing the finished products in the gallery soon. 


Sparky20/02/2008 18:38:00
7631 forum posts
22 photos

Hi Mike

All the left overs are stored in containers.................I'll toss them over the neighbours fence later!

Joking aside, there safely contained.

I've just glued up a 60 & 70 brick block today. I'm hoping the the ones that had white spirit soaked in them has gone and wont effect the gluing up..........I'll see tomorrow


gerard hogan11/06/2008 14:06:00
2 forum posts

Hi Marc,

Glad you got rid of the bitumen

How long did you soak the wood for and what ratio of sugar soap to water?

I've got 500 to do...Bathtime will never be the same again...



Sparky12/06/2008 00:27:00
7631 forum posts
22 photos

Hi Gerard

I left them soak for at least a day/night. Sugar soap was neat, straight in a container and placed the tiles in it.

Be prepared to scrape a lot!!

southcoastgirl20/11/2008 15:52:00
2 forum posts
I used oxalic acid to soften the bitch up then sand using 40 grade, it comeas off so much quicker, no need to w8 to leave to soak tho, just 20 will do.
Doug20/11/2008 17:00:00
3415 forum posts
35 photos
I`ll have to remember that the next time i`m having trouble.
Mike Garnham20/11/2008 19:25:00
4114 forum posts
1 photos
southcoastgirl wrote (see)
........ soften the bitch up ........

Thats not very Get Woodworking-type language!


Sparky20/11/2008 19:31:00
7631 forum posts
22 photos
Crikey, worse than me!
Doug20/11/2008 20:21:00
3415 forum posts
35 photos
If using acid isn`t bad enough then following up with 40 grit sounds barbaric
Cedric Wheeler22/11/2008 21:34:00
147 forum posts
25 photos
Try putting a block in the deep freeze which should make the bitumen brittle so that it will chip off. i haven't tried it but I know it works with chewing gum!

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