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Old 04-29-2003, 06:04 PM   #1 (permalink)
Liquid Diamonds
 
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Location: Lexington, KY
Stripping paint off of furniture?

I have been given a vintage piece of wood furniture that has several different coats of paint on it and is in shabby condition.

It has the potential to be a beautiful piece of furniture and I'd like to stain it once I remove the multiple coats of paint. I know sanding it would be nearly impossible and would take forever.

Has anybody tried the chemical paint strippers? Are you able to give me any tips or good brand names to stick with?

This is my first foray in furniture restoration. Help!
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Old 04-29-2003, 06:40 PM   #2 (permalink)
Insane
 
Location: P.R. Mass.
As a first timer, I strongly suggest purchasing Citristrip, the companion 'Citristrip Wash' and a good stiff bristle nylon brush for starters. It is very friendly stuff, smells nice and works pretty well. Brush it on somewhat generously and let it work (per the directions.) Remove somewhat gently with either a nylon brush, or once you get the feel for what you are working with, perhaps a wide blade putty knife or paint scraper with appropriate pressure (if the item is veneer, the moisture from any stripper could cause puckering or other loosening of the sheets of veener, so be gentle at first until you know what you are working with. Plan on 2 or 3 rounds of stripping and light scraping, then sanding. I've had good luck with that approach with Citristrip, but have to admit I am still a huge fan of that nasty 5F5 (blue can, skin eating) stripper.

I highly recommend gel stains (Bartleys and WoodKote are best, IMO) - not Minwax stains or gel stains on refinishing. They tend to even out sins in the wood, even out the color and go on like a dream. Couple coats of a water based poly and you'll be in business.
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Old 04-29-2003, 06:51 PM   #3 (permalink)
Big Julie
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Last time I was in on a major wood stripping project, I believe we used Bix, on old varnish, and it worked really well. But it's a petroluem base, so not something you'd want in the house. Possibly not even in the garage....
There's some stuff called, I think, Citri-Strip, or similar, that is water based, and much less apt to burn a hole through your leg. Smells powerful of that citrus smell cleaners have today, but won't actually cause your lungs to eat themselves.

You got a real hardware or paint store handy? For your first project, it might be worth a few extra bucks for some primo stripper, just to have somebody close that knows what they're talking about.

When it comes to scraping tools, be creative with what you have around the house; the kitchen is a good place to look. A friend was stripping some cabinet hardware, and her weapon of choice was a 79cent, plastic handled, throw-away paring knife that she'd got at the drug store. (My most favortist putty/spackling knife is an old icing spatula thingy.) If you have small nooks and crannies to clean out, you want something small and easy to handle.

However you proceed, start with a small, less obtusive area, while you get a feel for how whichever product you use behaves.
 
Old 04-29-2003, 07:25 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Location: Lexington, KY
Wow. This is great advice! I will look into the Citristrip for sure.

I am curious about the 5F5. What is it?
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Old 04-30-2003, 02:13 AM   #5 (permalink)
Insane
 
Location: P.R. Mass.
5F5 is essentially an old school stripper, made by a company called SGL. It works incredibly well, but is incredibly nasty stuff - so much so I'm surprised they still sell it in Mass. to the general public. Get a tiny dot of it on your skin and 15 seconds later it starts to burn - rinsing with water works, but it'll leave a little red mark for a while. Great stuff!
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Old 04-30-2003, 10:05 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Location: Sexymama's arms...
This is all good advice, Plummie, so I really don't need to add to it, BUT be sure to buy a couple of pairs of GOOD rubber gloves, some safety glasses (you don't want this stuff in your eye) and work in a VENTILATED area, so you don't gas yourself.
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Old 05-01-2003, 07:08 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Location: Lexington, KY
Ok guys, well yesterday I tried the Citristrip gel and it didn't work!

I did it exactly as the directions stated, but I think I need something more heavy-duty. There are at least 5 coats of paint on this table and I feel like chipping it off works better than the Citristrip!

I also tried a liquid paint stripper that has acetone and methylene chloride (nasty stuff) and am still not having great luck..

Either it's gonna take several coats of stripper and lots of chipping or I'm gonna have to just sand it down and re-paint it. Damn.
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Old 05-01-2003, 12:37 PM   #8 (permalink)
Insane
 
methylene chloride strippers should eat just about anything - BUT

- it will eat through many kinds of gloves, be careful!
- it needs to be in a thick coat, and it will also re-harden if you wait too long - you kind of have to scrape at just the right time.

stripping complicated pieces like chairs etc. would be a hassle

good luck
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Old 05-01-2003, 04:07 PM   #9 (permalink)
Insane
 
Location: P.R. Mass.
Plummie - How thick did you slather the Citristrip on, and how long did it sit for?

Did the paint 'alligator' on you, or did it not budge at all. It is expected to take several applications, but 5 tries following instructions and it is still not working does not make sense.
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Old 05-01-2003, 04:17 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Location: Grants Pass OR
If Citristrip won't cut it, MEK should do the trick. Caution MEK is very toxic, and it will leach through your skin and prolonged exposure has been linked to nerve damage. Use proper protective gear (chemical resistant gloves etc.) Talk to the guys at your local paint shop (not Home Depot or somewhere like that, but a shop that sells professional grade paints.) they should be able to hook you up.
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Old 05-07-2003, 07:08 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Location: Lexington, KY
Thanks for all your help. The table is finished now. Whew!

It took a week's worth of hard work, but now it is a beauty. Maybe I will take a picture of it to share with you guys.
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Old 05-12-2003, 03:54 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Location: Toronto
hmm,

As a guy who used to strip wood for a living, i would suggest you take it to a dunker.

For example, you can get a door stripped at a shop by them dunking it in a tank of the nastiest stuff going that only the pros can get. You wouldn't want to fall in that tank.

I don't know the brand names in the states, but i have tried several here in Toronto and they all pretty much work the same - half assed.

It takes several coats to remove paint, not so much to remove varnish.

What I do is put on a good coat of the stripper, then cover it in plastic wrap so it won't dry up too quickly.

Then use a scrapper.

In the end, you have to sand all the wood to get a good surface before you can refinish too.

Oh, and yeah, the stuff generally burns like hell, and even water doesn't seem to get rid of the stinging.

Nasty
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