Old shelf liner...how to remove??

wingo_43March 4, 2008

Hi everyone....

I'm usually over in Palms, but have a furniture question.

I recently acquired a hutch (?)..not quite a china cabinet from my late grandmother. This is a nice piece of furniture, appears to be made of pine and has a good solid build to it. At some point in the past she or my grandfather must have applied self-adhesive shelf liner to the top shelves. This piece of furniture is at least as old as me (I'm 45)....don't know about the paper, but its obviously been there quite awhile. I'm assunming this stuff is made of vinyl? But it's so old and brittle now. How do I get it off WITHOUT harming the wood? I'm planning on refinishing the entire piece. On the internet, I've read about using a hairdryer and using something called Goo-Gone to get the liner off, BUT I don't want to use anything that will soak into or affect the wood then cause problems later when I apply new stain and varnish.

You can see in one photo where I started peeling back one corner, but that didn't last long. It quickly started splitting and shredding.....pretty fancy liner though. Even has simulated knotholes!

Thanks for any advice you can give.

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Just an addition to what I wrote above. What I'm concerned about most is the adhesive from the liner paper being left on the wood. That's what I'd like advice about. The places where I've removed the paper, the wood is really sticky. I don't want to put anything on there to remove it that will cause problems later.


    Bookmark   March 4, 2008 at 8:13PM
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You are going to have to remove the adhesive residue at some point...heat will only soften the adhesive bond enough to allow you to peel off the shelf liner.

You have two choices:

1.Scrape and sand the residue off.
2.Use a solvent to soften the adhesive residue further and wipe off.

Someone may come in here with some advice on what solvent will dissolve pressure-sensitive adhesive from that era. You can discover that on your own by trial and error by subjecting the residue on the back of the vinyl to various solvents until you find one that will work. Most solvents will drive residues further into the wood, however.

As for what I'd do...I'd physically remove the stuff with sharp scrapers and then sandings with the appropriate schedule of sanding grits. The scrapers have to be razor sharp and your technique is to slice the residue off the wood while being careful not to gouge or nick the wood surface too deeply. A careful application of heat while scraping can hasten removal, as the softened adhesive is easier to work. I use hooked paint scrapers, but sharp cabinet scrapers would work well also, I'd guess.

Alot of work for sure.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 11:36AM
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I agree with the hair dryer to warm the stick-um and allow you to peel the paper off.
And goo gone I believe will be the best way to remove the residue...sanding won't work because the sand paper will gum up.
I have never heard of a solvent driving anything into the wood....you need to liquify the goo and then wipe it off. Safer than trying to shave it off with a sharp tool
No matter what you do you will have to refinish the surface.
Linda C

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 1:12PM
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Solvents emulsify the adhesive and the resulting slurry can seep into the wood fibers...that is why professional floor finishers don't use chemical strippers or solvent removers. If you use a solvent, then simply sand the wood surface until it is clean and will take the finishing materials you choose to use.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2008 at 10:32AM
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You could try using a plane to take the adhesive off (after you've heat-softened it and peeled away the plastic sheet). You can set the blade (a BRAND NEW and very sharp one) how you want, therefore set it to be level w/ the base of the plane, instead of extending below.

But I think I'd practice w/ the plane on some other item before I proceeded.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2008 at 3:26PM
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For glenn and lindac,

Thank you so much for all your advice. The hairdryer worked like a charm. Softened the shelf paper enough to where I could peel it off in long strips.

As for the adhesive left behind, I'm still working on that. But stay away from Goo Gone.....it barely made a dent, and still had to scrub with a Scotchbrite pad to get any results.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2008 at 11:01PM
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Isn't trying new things fun?!

Good luck with your hutch.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2008 at 7:52AM
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For glenn,

"Isn't trying new things fun?!"

Ain't it the truth? But that's how most of us learn...a continuing process of trial and error. That adhesive is REALLY on there. Touching the wood is like touching flypaper. Will yet have to resort to some sort of solvent to get it off, then like you said, just sand things down to where there's pure wood.

"Good luck with your hutch."

Thank you. This piece is quite sound overall, but it will need at least partial disassembly to properly refinish it. In reference to your first statement about things being fun, I'm sure getting that large sheet of veneer off the back without cracking or splitting it should be an absolute blast......: )

    Bookmark   March 10, 2008 at 2:46AM
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paint thinner and 00 steel wool should do a fair job of helping remove the old adhesive. In my experience the thinner makes the adhesives semi malleable, with a consistency of a creamy peanut butter , that is weirdly more prone to stick to itself than it is to adhere to anything else. This makes the adhesive gum up into little balls. you will need to use alot of steel wool, and wipe down the surface again. On some projects I found it helpful to alternate between using some paint thinner, wipe dry, and then denatured alcohol. Careful, denatured alcohol may also dissolve your finish beneath the gum and allow some muck to pool in the little pit pores in the wood so caution is necessary.
DO not use a plane, too much skill is needed and it wont reach the corners. no to laquer thinner. for detailed scraping, nothing beats a well sharpened pro-prep scraper. see link

Here is a link that might be useful: pro-prep scrapers

    Bookmark   March 11, 2008 at 9:23AM
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