I have some solid oak counter tops that I've cut and fitted, and now I'm ready to start finishing them. Right out of the box I noticed some lighter colored, reflective blemishes around the top. They appear randomly across the tops and do not span across multiple boards when they occur.

The tops come "finished" (smooth to maybe 60 grit, with one coat of oil treatment). I plan on sanding them and finishing with 4 coats of Waterlox.

I started with a piece of scrap hoping the marks would go away with sanding, but they haven't yet. Right side is sanded 100/120/150, left side is factory. You can see the marks on the 2nd plank from the right and on the plank center frame. Marks on oak counter top

They reflect light differently from the rest of the board. Note from this angle you can barely see them. Difficult marks to see from this angle

Close up of the mark that has some sanding

Close up of mark after sanding.

Close up of the other mark with the finish from the factory

enter image description here

Will the Waterlox mask or exacerbate these marks? Should I keep sanding? Or should I give up and accept them? I was already strategeic with my cuts and minimized how many and how visible they will be in the kitchen.


1 Answer 1


Quarter sawn oak has those rays. They aren't a defect nor will they go away.

This figure was prized by early Craftsman builders.

  • And is prized by many modern builders. If you don't want it to look like oak, oak might have been the wrong wood to start with.
    – keshlam
    Oct 23, 2016 at 20:23
  • I knew there had to be a term for it. Thank you, I couldn't find anything like it before but now adding rays to the search and I see it everywhere. I'm fine with appreciating the uniqueness of the wood - I was more worried this was some damage that had occurred prior to me getting them because of how sparse they were. I should have included "Spin it to my wife that they are sought after" as an option in my original post ;)
    – plast1k
    Oct 23, 2016 at 20:52
  • Also after sanding and cleaning them up a bit I see the rays are more prevalent than I first thought.
    – plast1k
    Oct 24, 2016 at 1:42

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