Need Advice on Stripping Carved Table and Chairs . . . Please!

lynninnewmexicoMay 15, 2008

I'm new to this forum, but a regular over on the Kitchens and Decorating forums. I have a dining room set that's pine and has a lot of carving on it. It's Southwestern, 18 years old and was originally whitewashed. I love this set, but really dislike the ww finish on it. Is there any saving it? I'd like to strip it and restain it a darker color, more in keeping with the antique mahogany chests of drawers there behind it. It was handcarved for us, but the craftsman moved out of state over ten yrs ago, so he's no help.

Here's a couple of pics of the set, so you can see all the sanding I'd have to do.

So, is there any method available that will actually strip a piece like this without all the intense hand-sanding on this big table and it's six matching chairs?

I saw a product over on Van Dyke's Restorers that's a paste, so there's no dripping. It claims to be able to take off up to 32 coats of paint at one time. Have you heard of it? Used it? Does it work?

Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated!!! Many thanks,


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Wow, that's a lot of work ahead of you. Even if the stripper worked perfectly, you have to get _it_ out of all the carvings and details, and then you have to be careful with them when you sand, stain and finish. I looked at a set _very_ similar to this a couple of years ago (Was it you????) and declined the job due to the amount of hand-work making it impractical.

Pine is never going to look like mahogany. The "casual" form of this piece is also inconsistent with the formal finish on the mahogany pieces.

Have you considered either a glaze or black paint?

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 8:07PM
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Well, it might have been me, if you're the guy who does the custom touch-up work for Branch Cabinetry (and if it IS you, I'll be calling you very soon for different work for us here).
I'm not aiming for my the antique pieces to match or even look like mahogany. . . just much darker would be a good start. I'd already thought about using Minwax's Gel Stain, but was then told it would chip off too easily on a dining room table and chairs that are used every day. Same with black paint. If you can tell me a way to avoid the chips, I'm ready and willing to go that route instead. No one is going to want to buy this set from me in it's present condition, even though it's wonderfully carved and made well. And, it looks too odd for us to keep it as is with the new antique pieces. I'd love to go with an antiqued black look. Any ideas now???

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 8:57PM
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That is the ugliest finish I have ever seen on southwestern style furniture. It looks like wall paint. I used to work for a southwestern furnishing company in the 90's and we never painted anything like that.

All I can suggest is Jasco paint and epoxy remover and lots of steel wool. A sharp narrow chisel can help scrape out the inside detail. Hold the chisel straight up and drag the blade against the wood, scraping away the surface- but it won't gouge if you hold the handle straight up in the air and scrape toward you.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 9:47PM
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have you looked into having it stripped professionally?

    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 11:44PM
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It's not a solid white "paint" that I see on's more fo a wash....
Does it have to be solid black? Or solid brown?
I would take a mix of laquer thinner and shellac thinner...the proportions vary according to your finish and just sop it on and wipe off the old finish. I wouldn't attempt to strip it clean....but just to get some of the white off.....then wipe it with a very dark stain....the tone of which depends on what you want.
I wouldn't attempt to make it a "painted" set but rather darken it so it blends a bit more with your antiques and gives your room an ectlectic look rather than mis-matched.
Linda C

    Bookmark   May 17, 2008 at 12:50AM
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"take a mix of laquer [sic] thinner and shellac thinner"???
I'd do a little testing before proceeding with this. It would work on some finishes, but not others.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2008 at 5:08PM
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The only finish I have found that it doesn't work on is latex paint or milk paint...
But I agree, test a spot to see if you are getting white on your rag.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2008 at 5:45PM
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