Gorgeous black walnut burl slab--need to remove yucky poly!

mahatmacat1August 14, 2014

Hi folks,

Hoping I can get some wisdom from you all concerning how to bring a large, beautiful walnut burl I got at Goodwill today, of all places, back to its natural shape so I can refinish it with a softer finish. It's got that lovely thick high-gloss polyurethane, like a marine varnish, so that's got to go...no problem getting it off the flat sides, but the live edge all around it? I don't know what to do.

Is there a really effective chemical stripper that won't ruin the live edge by needing a lot of steel wool-ing? Thanks very much in advance. We want to make it a side table with some vintage hairpin legs we have been keeping for just such a great opportunity.

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I suggest spraying semi-gloss or flat aerosol poly over existing poly on a section of smooth surface to see if that would look ok if used on live edge. I believe stripping edges would require tank dip by a professional.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 4:45AM
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If the live edge has bark, then the possibility of the bark coming off is very possible. You might be able to reduce the sheen by steel wool-ing it.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 10:28PM
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Thanks, klem & sloyd. The idea of layering a flat on top of the shine had occurred to me but I didn't know if it would take years after the original finish. I'll try it on a flat so I can remove it easily. Thanks.

And sloyd, the bark is gone. There's just a *lot* of unevenness and nubs sticking out and I'm afraid if I steel-wool them, they'll either come off or get worn down. I like the immediate surface. Think I'll try the tone-down-spray idea and see how it works.

Thank you both so much!

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 1:23AM
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I'd love to see a picture.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 10:16AM
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A thought for the live edge:
Pick up some of the darkest, flat, paint base and seal it with that. I also choose exterior for sealing properties. It goes on white and dries so matte you will wonder if you actually applied it. In areas where there are pieces you'd like to adhere, or make certain they don't come off (like paint chips stuff, for example) this seals it on without the goo-ed on look anything satin or shiny makes.

You can also pick up some matte finish varnish. Beautiful, Decoart, and General Finishes make them. Much more expensive than the paint base, though.

There are strippers that don't require steel wooling, nor protective space suits, etc. These are of the 21st century and offer pretty incredible results.

I'd love to see a pic of your new acquisition!

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 11:25AM
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Hi CE, and thanks for your post. I did try a satin spray and it looked pretty much like what was on the rest of the top -- too shiny for my taste for this particular kind of piece. What I'd really like for it would be a rubbed-on bowl kind of finish, nothing more. Osmo hardwax oil, something like that.

I still can't get my brain around paint *base* -- it has no color at all? I'll get some today, maybe ask them to open it so I can see it before I buy it, because this will be a definite first for me. I'll try to post pics this weekend. I want to take the finish *off* the top, too, because it's really obscuring the beautiful burl lines, and redo it with a clear matte/bowl finish.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 12:59PM
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