Re-finish Oak question?

splaisJuly 29, 2009

I have an oak coffee table I want to refinish in a darker cherry color. Right now it looks like it was stain neutral or light oak and then varnished/PU'd. I need help what is the best way to prep this thing - two questions, or one long depending on how you read it.

Would it be best to just sand the surface before staining, or should I us a liquid stripper? If I use a stripper I'm worried about cleaning it up (i.e., using water) without raising the grain of the wood. Any help greatly appreciated.

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Use a stripper, sanding is not an effective way. Sanding will not necessarily remove all the finish and you can end up with uneven staining. Also, if the top is veneer, it is very easy to sand through to the substrate. And finally, you will gum up a lot of sandpaper and expend a lot of time and effort.

You can find strippers in liquid or "semi-paste" (gel). Not all strippers rinse with water. Read the label to see what they recommend.

Also be aware that if it is a factory finish, there is almost no chance it's polyurethane. Lacquer is the most common finish.

Here is a link that might be useful: Strippers

    Bookmark   July 29, 2009 at 8:24PM
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Raising the grain of the wood is not a disaster. It takes a lot less sandpaper and work to knock down a bit of raised grain than it does to sand off the entire finish.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2009 at 8:29AM
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We use a stripper called E-Z Way that does not require water clean-up and does not raise the grain at all. We mail order it - I don't think it's available in stores.

Although I think it would fall into the ATM category according to the article linked above, I'm not sure it's precisely addressed in the article as it is extremely effective on multiple coats of paint as well as on lacquers.


    Bookmark   August 2, 2009 at 2:51AM
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Actually I'd better amend my use of the word "lacquer" as I'm not sure if that's the kind of clear coat I've used it on, might have been varnish or whatever was used on old furniture. I've certainly never had it fail me though, through a fair variety of projects.


    Bookmark   August 2, 2009 at 2:58AM
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