varnish strippers


I'm doing some intro woodworking projects and need a good chemical stripper that easy to clean up, will not interfere with sanding, and low toxity level.
thanks
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g spake thus:

Use the orange stuff ("Citristrip" or equivalent). Made from citrus oils, very effective, non-toxic, even smells nice. Expen$ive but worth it.
For small items you can soak (typically metal parts, like hinges, pulls, etc.), there's always brake fluid. It works slowly, but most paint will dissolve in it if left for 24-48 hours.
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g wrote:

They're all toxic.
Best cheapest ones are methylene chloride based. Vile as they smell, they're mainly toxic to certain strains of white lab mice in California. Minimize exposure by working outdoors, upwind.
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Father Haskell spake thus:

Not the citrus-derived ones.

Nope. Methylene chloride is a human carcinogen. Stay away from it!
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David Nebenzahl wrote:

Which gave me a splitting headache and made me feel slightly drunk. Great at stripping lacquer from some old Thomasville chairs I refinished, but far from benign.

How do the others compare?
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Father Haskell spake thus:

Really? Not doubting you, just surprised: I've always found this stuff quite pleasant to work with, and wasn't aware that it made any vapors at all. The brand I use is Citristrip by Speciality Environmental Technologies. Maybe other types aren't so good. Or maybe I'm just insensitive to something that bothers you.
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On Wed, 06 Dec 2006 22:05:57 -0800, David Nebenzahl

If you can smell it, it's making vapors. It's quite possible that what vapors it makes varies according to what you're stripping. My theory is that anything that's capable of dissolving paint is probably bad for you.
Citristrip, according to the MSDS I found at http://www.floodaustralia.net/msds/MSDSCitristrip.pdf
is 69.9 % N-Methyl-2-Pyrrolidone     872-50-4 10.4 % D-Limonene         5989-27-5
And some thinkening agents.
It also says: =================Inhalation: May cause headache; irritation of the respiratory system and mucous membranes, nausea, drowsiness, mental confusion, dizziness and giddiness. Can cause pulmonary oedema, signs and symptoms can be delayed several hours.
Skin: This product is a skin irritant. May cause irritation, redness, inflammation, cracking, blisters, defatting, and severe burns. Vapours may cause irritation.
Eye: This material is an eye irritant. May cause irritation, burns (including severe burns and irreversible damage), conjunctivitis, watering, stinging of eyes and lids, selling of eye, redness, discomfort, and permanent scarring of the cornea. Vapours may cause discomfort.
Swallowing: Harmful if swallowed. May cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pains, diarrhoea, irritation, damage or burns o mouth, throat and stomach, severe pain, salivation, ulcerations of membranes,, circulatory collapse and death.
Chronic Health Effects May cause skin irritation, albuminuria and hematuria. ======================= Those last two are signs of kidney damage.
The primary chemical N-Methyl-2-Pyrrolidone is listed at http://www.scorecard.org/chemical-profiles/summary.tcl?edf_substance_id 2-50-4
as a developmental toxicant (screws up fetuses) a blood toxicant (poisons your blood) a kidney toxicant (destroys your kidneys) a neurotoxicant (messes up your brain) and a reproductive toxicant (makes you sterile)
The stuff may well be safer, and probably *IS* less offensive than other strippers, but that doesn't make it anything close to safe.
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Goedjn wrote:

http://www.scorecard.org/chemical-profiles/summary.tcl?edf_substance_id 2-50-4
Bob Flexner says none are safe.
Stay with Zip Strip or similar. Work outdoors to absolutely minimize exposure. Don't stir the remover film with a putty knife to "speed the process." That breaks the paraffin skin, letting the methylene chloride portion evaporate, exposing you, and slowing down the job. These strippers are cheap, widely available, effective on the widest range of finishes, and predictable. Less effective consumer grade strippers (meaning all of the others) are a huge waste of money when you buy bottle after bottle because the last one did little or nothing.
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David Nebenzahl wrote:

Citristrip.
Probably, or I had a stronger exposure.
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Check out these folks,
http://www.franmar.com/oscommerce/index.php?cPath !
We use these products for screen printing and they are great, no fumes no smell, use it barehanded.
PV
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The Citristrip stuff is crap that doesn't do much. I'm glad I bought the smallest container of it. I've had much better results with all the ones that contain harsh chemicals. The only exception that have found so far is Peel Away. It takes forever, but it does work and it doesn't stink up the place.
If you are just looking to remove paint from wood, use a heat gun instead. It works much better.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com spake thus:

It's true that the orange stuff takes longer than the harsh-chemical stuff, but given enough time, it does work. That's one tradeoff I'm quite willing to make.
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PV spake thus:

Here's a better link (though longer): http://www.franmar.com/oscommerce/product_info.php?cPath !&products_id4&osCsidd074abfd47b77eae45b863af252bae
Soy, gel, huh? Never heard of it. I'll have to try it sometime. Is this stuff available anywhere locally (local being S.F. Bay Area)?
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g wrote:

Methylene chloride is best, but toxic. If you work in well-ventillated garage and dispose of the waste properly, it is ideal. It would make pretty quick work of a flat, thin finish. I use steel wool and mineral spirits for clean-up and sanding is usually not needed. I use sandwich bags for "gloves" to handle the stuff because it eats up rubber gloves pretty quick. It stings rather badly on skin, but for some reason doesn't leave any marks or irritation. It also may work best for wood with intricate carving because you can work it in with an old toothbrush or similar to get varnish out of fine spaces. Not what you asked for, but only method I've used.
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There are several types of furniture strippers not counting the specialized ones for paint.
I will assume that by "good" you mean one that works in a reasonable amount of time and does a complete job. The only ones that are really "good" are those that contain Methylene Chloride (MC). ATM strippers (Acetone, Toluene, Methanol) can remove some furniture coatings like simple lacquer and shellac but won't do much for varnish or polyurethane. As you can imagine, ATM strippers are quite flammable. MC strippers are typically not flammable. MC strippers work quite fast. You can usually see them bubbling up the finish in about ten minutes. ATM strippers work more slowly since they are trying to dissolve the finish. All other strippers work slowly so probably don't fit your definition of good.
As for cleanup, it's all in how you do it. After you have given it the once over with 4/0 steel wool or a ScotchBrite pad soaked in stripper and then removed the excess with a plastic blade / scrapper, try wiping down the piece with a clean rag to remove most of the stripper / finish. Then, go over it with 1/1/2 (v/v/v) alcohol/acetone/toluene. This will remove any remaining stripper, wax, and finish. The beauty of the mixture is that it does not allow the finish to redeposit. The cleaning takes no more than five minutes.
There are no strippers that interfere with sanding once they have been thoroughly removed and the wash is allowed to evaporate.
As for low toxicity, the only stripper that is as close to nontoxic as you can get is Safest Stripper by 3M. The active ingredients are dibasic esters (DBEs). That stripper is extremely slow and is not particularly thorough. Just work in a well ventilated environment and you will be fine. The wax in all the paste strippers forms a coating over the stripper that minimizes evaporation and therefore, fumes.
Good Luck.
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