Stripping Finishes the Right Way
Choose the chemical best suited for the finish you want to remove
Synopsis: Stripping a finish can be bearable and efficient if you use the right solvent, says Jeff Jewitt. First, evaluate the finish you want to remove by testing with solvents that help identify a clear finish by a process of elimination. Then match the stripper to the job at hand. Jewitt breaks the options into five categories: methylene chloride; methanol, acetone, toluene; n-methyl pyrrolidone; dibasic esters; and lye. He discusses safety tips for using these solvents. There’s also a side article on how Jewitt removed paint from an old piano bench using four different chemical strippers, to see which worked best. Before and after photos document the test.
Stripping furniture is not one of the more pleasant tasks in finishing. But the lure of finding spectacular wood buried under layers of finish remains strong, so some folks jump right into it, only to find more work than they imagined.…