Need advice: strip old hutch and buffet

Karen99123March 17, 2011

I have built furniture before, but I have never refinished one. I bought an old buffet with hutch. It looks like someone, put polyurethene (spelling ?) on it to probably hide scratches and such. It is pine and has a medium stain. I have watched several do-it-yourself videos on the subject, but there are so many different ways to do it that I am overwhelmed. I would appreciate any suggestions on a good stripper and the process for example do I use a product after the stripper to remove it then sand.

Thank you

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A remarkable amount of the old finish can be removed with a cabinet scraper and orbital sanding (wear a dust mask. If then there are little detail spots where there are still areas to remove finish, then use any stripper, allowing it to "work" for five or ten minutes, then remove with tiny chisle or pick type tool. you can always grind an old screwdriver into a slender pointed scraping tool. The less area you have to use stripper on the less you have to "rinse" with paint thinner to get stripper residue out of grain.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2011 at 11:23AM
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Thank you for the advice. I will get a paint scraper and go at it. I was wondering why not strip the whole piece instead of scrapping, sanding and then stripping? Does it dry the wood out or hard to remove? I don't mind following the process you suggest, because I am completely unknowledgeable in this area. I know it will be a beautirul piece when I get it finished. Trying to learn as much as I can and appreciating what knowledge I am gaining.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2011 at 1:16PM
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I would disagree. Scraping and sanding is a very poor way to remove finish. If you are sanding,
- you will gum up a lot of paper
- if it's veneer, you risk sanding through the veneer
- you stand to loose a lot of the crisp details in moldings and edges
- you will remove the finish unevenly, leaving some of the pores blocked and others opened more. This will show up when you try to stain and it's absorbing differently and unevenly.

It's messy and smelly, but pick a nice day, work in the shade or garage, don the rubber gloves and goggles, and use a methylene chloride stripper. It will be over in a couple of hours instead of spending a whole weekend sanding.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2011 at 1:31PM
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If you go the scraping, there is a big difference between a cabinet scraper and a paint scraper. A cabinet scraper is a tool that can be sharpened for a crisp clean cut on a flat surface and will not dig in. The idea of scraping and sanding is that you only use stripper in the areas where you were not able to remove the old finish. Thus you don't have a big messy job with some areas stripped moer than others because the stripper residue is difficult to get out of wood grain pores. I this process takes more than a couple hours, then you might get a price on having it professionally stripped at a place where they do not dip the entire piece in a tank of stripper and loosen the glue joints. If you have built a few pieces of furniture, then you have the skills to scrape and sand your way to a good job in a short period of time. Just ask my apprentice if he would save alot of time using only stripper and watch his face turn to a frown.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2011 at 3:59PM
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If you want to use a chemical product, then I like EZ Way because you don't have to clean up with a separate product or with water. It does not contain methylene chloride. But it stinks to high heaven and can almost only be used outdoors. There are several "natural" type strippers that have little odor - Organic strip is one I can get locally - and require water clean-up. Those work, but usually more slowly. I'm not sure if removing polyurethane vs. other finishes poses special challenges.

If you have a heat gun, you might see whether that works, but obviously watch carefully for fire risk.

I agree a cabinet scraper is an excellent tool to use, just on the dry piece. I will warn that your ability to use it well depends on your ability to sharpen it properly. But I suspect you'll need one of the other methods. And if you are softening the finish somehow, then a pull scraper can be the best for removal. And lots of 3M pads and paper towels!

I have done a lot of stripping, and have never yet sanded to remove finish. That is just a way to create dust.

There is a lot of discussion about stripping paint on the old house forum, and maybe here too.


    Bookmark   March 21, 2011 at 6:17PM
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Thank you all for the advice! I would consider scraping with a stripper , but I do not have a mechanical sharpened; I never have sharpening any blade with a hand held one. Additionally, I live in a duplex now, I am limited by a place to work and equipment storage.

How do you know when you have removed all the stripper.

It is not veneer and I am pretty sure it is pine.

How do I post a picture to show my progress?

    Bookmark   March 22, 2011 at 2:18AM
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