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Stripping Basics

wood finishing

by Alan Noel
Professional Wood Finisher



A lot of do it yourselfers give up on trying to strip a piece of furniture for a lot of reasons. The most common being they didn’t realize how much work stripping is and secondly, not having the right space and tools for the job. Here are some basic guidelines to follow.

  1. NEVER STRIP ANY FINISH IN THE SUN.
  2. Outdoors in the shade is best. If indoors, be sure to have a lot of ventilation and plenty of fresh air and NO OPEN FLAMES!
  3. When purchasing stripper, always buy the one that weighs the most. It contains the most of the main ingredient, methyline chloride.
  4. On clear finishes I prefer a fast acting liquid stripper.
  5. For painted surfaces gel stripper works best.
  6. Be sure to buy “chemical resistant” gloves, goggles, long sleeves and an apron.
  7. Use old paint brushes to apply the chemical and soft nylon brushes or fine steel wool to gently scrub the surface.
  8. Use lacquer thinner for clean up and to remove any remaining residue.
  9. When the project is complete, spread out the stipping sludge and let dry then place in the trash.
  10. If you are stripping old painted surfaces that date back before 1970, contact a local refinishing shop and ask about lead paint stripping waste disposal before you start any project. There may be strict rules to follow that differ depending on your location.


Visiting Atlanta? Attend one of Alan's upcoming highly informative Highland Woodworking wood finishing seminars:


May 17-18, 2014  Antique Restoration
May 24, 2014  Finishing 101
June 18, 2014  French Polish Workshop
June 21, 2014  Finishing 101



Visit Highland Woodworking's Online
Wood Finishing Supplies Department




Alan can be reached directly via email c/o Alan Noel Furniture Refinishing at anoelfurniturere@bellsouth.net.


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