Helpful hints for stripping wood furniture

August 11, 2015

When you bring out wood furniture's natural grain and colour, you reveal its beauty. Stripping off ugly paints and varnishes is one way to bring out this natural beauty is. But before you start stripping your wood furniture, read these helpful hints.

Helpful hints for stripping wood furniture

Safety first

  • If a product can remove paint, then you need to avoid inhaling it or getting it on your skin or in your eyes.
  • To keep your wood stripper from getting on your skin or in your eyes wear long sleeves, long pants, goggles, solvent-resistant gloves and a respirator with an organic-vapour filter.
  • It's also a good idea to work outdoors if you can, or in a well-ventilated area.
  • Avoid strippers containing the flammable chemical methylene chloride. This chemical is also a skin and eye irritant.
  • Inhaling methylene chloride can cause dizziness and headaches, and will reduce your ability to absorb oxygen.
  • Water-based wood strippers are a safer alternative.
  • These wood strippers take longer to work and may raise the wood grain, but they are much less noxious.

Use old brushes to make wood look new

  • Stiff, old paintbrushes are great for applying paint stripper.
  • Before you start your stripping, soak the old brush in a jar of your wood stripper.
  • Any dried-on paint will soon soften and separate from the bristles, leaving you with a brush that's pliable and ready to use.

Spatulas are fine spreader substitutes

  • A plastic kitchen spatula is a perfect substitute for a plastic scraper when you're working on flat surfaces.
  • Though you'll need to push it firmly through the dissolved wood stripper, your spatula will scrape off the stripper without scratching the wood underneath.

Hug edges with shave hooks

  • With its straight and curved edges, a triangular or tear-shaped shave hook gives you both straight and curved edges to work with
  • These edges are excellent for stripping inside very tight corners.

Stripping curves won't be a wash

  • Scrape out small inside curves with a washer clamped in locking pliers.
  • If you can't find a washer that fits your curve exactly, file one down into the ideal shape.

Scour the surface

  • Dip a scouring pad in paint stripper and use it to remove any last vestiges of paint and varnish from the grain of the wood.
  • Always rub in the direction of the grain to avoid scratching the surface.

No sharp edges

  • Wood strippers soften the wood, so it's wise to round off your scraper's sharp corners with a file before taking off the dissolved paint or finish.
  • Doing so will help make sure that you don't score the wood while scraping.

Cover up holes before you strip

  • Prior to stripping a piece of wood furniture, remove all the hardware from it and plug the screw and key holes with newspaper twists.
  • These plugs will help stop the openings from collecting stripper residue, which is rock-hard when it dries and difficult to remove.

Follow these helpful tips and hints and you'll be more likely to leave the wood furniture that you strip naturally — and cleanly — beautiful.

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