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Need Help Stripping Furniture
Old 01-28-2007, 05:26 PM   #1
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Need Help Stripping Furniture

Yesterday I found a really nice dresser sitting out at a dumpster at DW's complex. Solid hardwood, all the drawers dovetailed front and back. It is finished with a walnut veneer which appears to have been varnished or shellacked. The varnish is kind of funky on the dresser top . Nice big mirror above.

So I called my son and we carried it about 600 yards to DW's apartment. I'd like to get the varnish off and just oil it or something.

Any ideas about what to use? I don't want to sand much or at all, as the veneer might not stand up to it.

Thanks,

Ha
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Re: Need Help Stripping Furniture
Old 01-28-2007, 05:42 PM   #2
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Re: Need Help Stripping Furniture

I have stripped and refinished a fair amount of old furniture. If it is shellac, that is great as it is easy to remove with alcohol. Try a bit of alcohol on it and see if it works.

If varnish you will need some kind of chemical stripper. Even though water based strippers are the least toxic I wouldn't recomend them for an iffy veneer surface as it may raise the veneer. So you may be stuck with the toxic chemical strippers. There are many different ones on the market--use care and good air circulation with all of them. I would only do it outside.

Oh, if it is a varnish made of shellac and lacquer as some old varnishes, you might get it off with alcohol and lacquer thinner or mineral spirits.
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Re: Need Help Stripping Furniture
Old 01-28-2007, 06:17 PM   #3
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Re: Need Help Stripping Furniture

Dad pretty much furnished our whole house with "finds" like this when we were growing up. Of course, back then you could walk around the dump and find all sorts of cool stuff. Some of them were absolutely beautiful once you stripped off all the spray paint or whatever other glop someone had applied. I think that's probably where I developed my abiding love of nicely figured wood.

Anyway, the stuff he swore by was Formby's . It always seemed to work for him. ALWAYS WEAR PLAYTEX GLOVES AND SAFETY GLASSES. And to preserve that veneer I would remove the Formby's with an old credit card scraper and then rub it down with a wet coat and some "0000" steel wool. This will leave a really nice surface, ready for your choice of finishes. Formby's also makes a Lemon Tung Oil, which is basically just a liquid you sipe on real wet, let it sit ten minutes and wipe it off. Let it dry a couple of days and repeat. Let it dry at least a week and repeat again.

Nowadays I am partial to an old finish I discovered in an antique woodshop text. Equal parts of boiled linseed oil, mineral spirits, and varnish. I usually mix it in batches of one pint of each. Shelf life is about six - nine months. It is also a wipe-on finish. You wipe it on and let it dry for ten minutes then wipe it off with a clean rag. Two days later repeat the process, except let it sit on there for about 15 minutes. And then one last coat after one week, letting it sit for about 15 - 20 minutes, but wipe it off before it gets tacky.

PLEASE REMEMBER THAT ALL OF THESE CHEMICALS ARE CAPABLE OF SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION. Lay the rags out flat on some outdoor surface to dry. NEVER PUT THEM IN THE TRASH UNTIL THEY ARE COMPLETELY DRY. I go so far as to keep a 10 gallon galvanized trash can with lid outside to store them until I put them out at the curb.

Another book I have recommends an old Shaker finish, just plain old linseed oil. Wipe it on and let it dry on the piece. Apply one coat daily for a week. Then apply one coat weekly for a month. Then apply one coat monthly for a year. Then just refresh the oil once a year. That's ok for someone who's got the piece in their house, but not so great for someone selling pieces.

I have also used Carver Trip Water Based Polyurethane with reasonable results. Apply one coat and let dry two days. Scrub down with "0000" steel wool and then wipe clean with a tack cloth (available at HD or Lowe's). Apply a second coat and that's it, you're done. Although you could do a third if you wish. I would.
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Re: Need Help Stripping Furniture
Old 01-28-2007, 06:21 PM   #4
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Re: Need Help Stripping Furniture

I hope they don't sell benzene-based stipping chemicals anymore. A friend of the family was in the antique business and died of a cancer of the bone marrow (I forget the name of it).

I usually pay someone else to do it.
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Re: Need Help Stripping Furniture
Old 01-28-2007, 06:43 PM   #5
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Re: Need Help Stripping Furniture

Quote:
you might get it off with alcohol
Wisdom in those words. Quote of the day. I would suggest bourbon with an ice cube.
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Re: Need Help Stripping Furniture
Old 01-28-2007, 06:56 PM   #6
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Re: Need Help Stripping Furniture

I've remover paint/varnish on several pieces of furniture and woodwork using Strip-eze. I did it outside so fumes and such were not a problem. I tried the water-based strippers, but was less than impresed with the results.
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Re: Need Help Stripping Furniture
Old 01-28-2007, 07:07 PM   #7
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Re: Need Help Stripping Furniture

One more thing,,,,,,be really careful on edges of the veneer. Old time veneer was typically between 1/28th and 1/32nd of an inch thick. It REALLY easy to sand a bald spot on an edge. DAHIK
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Re: Need Help Stripping Furniture
Old 01-28-2007, 08:09 PM   #8
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Re: Need Help Stripping Furniture

Quote:
Originally Posted by poboy
Wisdom in those words. Quote of the day. I would suggest bourbon with an ice cube.
And keep drinking it and looking at the dresser until it looks fine to you. Within a week it'll blend in with the background and be unnoticeable.
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Re: Need Help Stripping Furniture
Old 01-28-2007, 09:22 PM   #9
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Re: Need Help Stripping Furniture

First, figure out if you REALLY want, need and especially if you love the piece! stripping, refinishing is a pain in the patooty no matter what you are doing, and it will likely take you much longer to do it if you haven't done it before.

i just finished the bathroom cabinets and it took me several days longer (intermittant working while layers dried etc.) than i thought and many trips back and forth to the store to do the next step!

i used the strip ease - there are 2 kinds, one that you put on and put a paper backing and you lift off later when it is dry, which i understand is great for multiple layers of paint, the other is the kind i used for smaller projects where you put on a thick coat and scrape off w/ a putty knife...

it is more enviro friendly but takes hours longer, as i understand it the chemical strippers you soak the pad and rub it on the furniture so you would be done several hours sooner (but maybe higher!). plus, it leaves a residue, so if there are nooks and decorative things, you will have to carefully clean those out.

then there was the after stripping cleaning solution (or mineral spirits), some sanding, some more cleaning, then staining, then poly x's three (and the several hours in between each coat and steel wool in between too)...and on and on!

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Re: Need Help Stripping Furniture
Old 01-29-2007, 06:42 AM   #10
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Re: Need Help Stripping Furniture

Quote:
Originally Posted by Goonie
I've remover paint/varnish on several pieces of furniture and woodwork using Strip-eze. I did it outside so fumes and such were not a problem. I tried the water-based strippers, but was less than impresed with the results.
I was trying to remember the name of the stuff I used and I think it was Strip-eze. You paste it on and let it dry and then simply peel the finish off like magic. Much less muss and fuss than strippers that scrape off in a wet mess.
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Re: Need Help Stripping Furniture
Old 01-29-2007, 08:19 AM   #11
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Re: Need Help Stripping Furniture



Retirebop.... you are the man! Loved your comments above, esp. the part about linseed oil. I use that stuff often, and at $10/gal its about the cheapest finish on the shelf.



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Re: Need Help Stripping Furniture
Old 01-29-2007, 08:48 AM   #12
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Re: Need Help Stripping Furniture

Quote:
Originally Posted by BUM
Retirebop.... you are the man! Loved your comments above, esp. the part about linseed oil. I use that stuff often, and at $10/gal its about the cheapest finish on the shelf.
Thank you, I strive to please.
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Re: Need Help Stripping Furniture
Old 01-29-2007, 11:09 AM   #13
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Re: Need Help Stripping Furniture

You may not give a hoot, but refinishing an old piece will eliminate any value as an antique...
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Re: Need Help Stripping Furniture
Old 01-29-2007, 01:53 PM   #14
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Re: Need Help Stripping Furniture

Quote:
Originally Posted by donheff
I was trying to remember the name of the stuff I used and I think it was Strip-eze. You paste it on and let it dry and then simply peel the finish off like magic. Much less muss and fuss than strippers that scrape off in a wet mess.
The Stripeze that I always used, you brush on rather heavily and let it sit a while until the paint bubbles up. Then you use a scraper or putty knife or some such, and the paint just oozingly peeled off. Then you used some sort of something to clean the piece up and more or less neutralize the stripeze. (I should write a technical manual )

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Re: Need Help Stripping Furniture
Old 01-29-2007, 02:31 PM   #15
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Re: Need Help Stripping Furniture

Stripeze is a brand name for a common substance known as "pookie"... :P
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Re: Need Help Stripping Furniture
Old 01-29-2007, 03:08 PM   #16
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Re: Need Help Stripping Furniture

Quote:
Originally Posted by HFWR
You may not give a hoot, but refinishing an old piece will eliminate any value as an antique...
I don't think this has any value as an antique. It is well made, but nothing special.

But reading about tumors and all, I may just do the bourbon thing. If it doesn't take it off, I drink what is left until it looks good enough for me!

Ha
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Re: Need Help Stripping Furniture
Old 01-29-2007, 03:25 PM   #17
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Re: Need Help Stripping Furniture

Quote:
Originally Posted by HFWR
You may not give a hoot, but refinishing an old piece will eliminate any value as an antique...
I don't give a hoot. I just want it to look the way I want it to look.


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Re: Need Help Stripping Furniture
Old 01-29-2007, 03:30 PM   #18
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Re: Need Help Stripping Furniture

Everytime I ever tried stripping furniture I felt like I took 10 years off my lungs (there called ORGANIC SOLVENTS for a reason). If it's worth keeping, send it in to a professional. It'll look much nice if you didn't do the work.
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