Minwax Furniture Refinisher vs. alcahol/mineral spirits/lacquer thinner

I need to strip the finish from some old furniture. Someone suggested using Minwax Furniture Refinisher which supposedly contains (among other things) alcohol, mineral spirits, and lacquer thinner.
However, would I be better off just testing alcohol, mineral spirts, and lacquer separately to see which ones best remove the old finish. The theory being that it is better (and cheaper) to use the full-strength version of the right solvent.
Or is there an advantage to using Minwax's magical formulation?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 3/3/2010 11:18 PM blueman spake thus:

that doesn't even make sense if you think about it: that's like saying "I have no frigging idea what that finish is, but if I just throw any and all solvents at it, maybe it'll come off". (Assuming that that is really what is in it; I have no idea.)
Alcohol will dissolve shellac, but nothing else. Lacquer thinner (acetone + other stuff) will dissolve lacquer, but probably nothing else, though it may damage paint or varnish. Mineral spirits, well, won't dissolve anything really.

You could try alcohol and lacquer thinner to see whether the finish is shellac (dissolved by alcohol) or lacquer, but if it's neither, you're not even going to make a dent in it.
Sorry, you need to use some kind of real stripper here. Maybe that Minwax stuff is it, but in that case, it has a lot more in it than the ingrediments you mentioned.
--
You were wrong, and I'm man enough to admit it.

- a Usenet "apology"
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I used to strip a lot of old stuff and love it back to life. Still have several pieces of furniture in the house that were rescuees including my (appx) 100 year old walnut dining room table that was painted blue and white and a sideboard that I found to go with it that was pretty rough.
http://i292.photobucket.com/albums/mm30/7SlotFever/Woodwork/buffetb-4.jpg
Not the best "after" pic. Had to paint parts of it to hide the repairs from a dog using it as a chew toy.
http://i292.photobucket.com/albums/mm30/7SlotFever/Woodwork/buffetafter.jpg
After trying several "miracle products" with limited results I went back to good old Jasco paint stripper. Be sure to wear gloves (HF, blue, $9 a box, change often) cause it will burn your skin.
Paint it on, gently scrape it off and then give it scrub bath with mineral spirits and a scotch brite. Then a wash with something like cheese cloth or a terry cloth towel soaked in mineral spirits or lacquer thinner.
A small soft brass brush works well in nooks and crannies. Just be gentle so you don't scar the wood.
K.
On 3/3/2010 11:18 PM blueman spake thus:

that doesn't even make sense if you think about it: that's like saying "I have no frigging idea what that finish is, but if I just throw any and all solvents at it, maybe it'll come off". (Assuming that that is really what is in it; I have no idea.)
Alcohol will dissolve shellac, but nothing else. Lacquer thinner (acetone + other stuff) will dissolve lacquer, but probably nothing else, though it may damage paint or varnish. Mineral spirits, well, won't dissolve anything really.

You could try alcohol and lacquer thinner to see whether the finish is shellac (dissolved by alcohol) or lacquer, but if it's neither, you're not even going to make a dent in it.
Sorry, you need to use some kind of real stripper here. Maybe that Minwax stuff is it, but in that case, it has a lot more in it than the ingrediments you mentioned.
--
You were wrong, and I'm man enough to admit it.

- a Usenet "apology"
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Thu, 4 Mar 2010 07:14:30 -0600, the infamous "Kate"

Uh, oh! So, Kate, are you going to show us the footstool you made from the hide? How'd you tan it? (Condolences.)

No a bad recovery.

Even those deteriorate quickly with stripper. I doubled them up the last time. It also removes veneer glue occasionally, so be careful.
-- An author spends months writing a book, and maybe puts his heart's blood into it, and then it lies about unread till the reader has nothing else in the world to do. -- W. Somerset Maugham, The Razor's Edge, 1943
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 3/4/2010 2:28 AM, David Nebenzahl wrote:

Perhaps, but not necessarily true. I've found the best thing to strip shellac is simply denatured alcohol. Because it's natural organic resin, there are at least some stripper products out there that won't work worth a damn on shellac. Not saying such products don't exist, but alcohol works perfectly so I haven't bothered looking any further.
--
If it ain't perfect, improve it...
But don't break it while you're fixin' it!
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 3/4/2010 5:36 AM Steve Turner spake thus:

Well, that was kinda my point. If you *know* the finish you want to take off is all shellac or all lacquer, then you can just the respective solvent (alcohol or acetone) to remove it, instead of a paint stripper.
--
You were wrong, and I'm man enough to admit it.

- a Usenet "apology"
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
SNIP

Good post, David. And all true.
I rarely test a surface before stripping because I only do it with my company. That means that someone calls me (well, they used to when they had money!) when they want exterior doors refinished, or some interior work.
By the time I am called, it may have multiple coats of who knows what, or when it was applied, or how. I see oil based over water based products, polys over varnishes, lacquer primed doors with poly on them, etc.
I use the strippers that have a lot of sodium hydroxide. It is dangerous, but the high concentration stuff will take the hid off a rhino. On supplier I use has a forumla that will burn through several coats of finish at once. And you should see what it does to unprotected skin!
When I strip I try to use the least caustic solution possible. With that in mind, I like the BIX brand stuff for routine stripping. I think it is called K5 or something like that - it's the orange can. I found the Minwax a little ineffective when I used it. BIX is available at Big Box stores too, so I am not tasked paying shipping to get a couple of gallons.
Robert
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I use the strippers that have a lot of sodium hydroxide. It is dangerous, but the high concentration stuff will take the hid off a rhino. --------------------------------------- Sodium hydroxide, AKA Caustic, AKA Caustic soda.
50% Caustic is a basic industrial chemical used for many industrial applications including paint strippers and detergents.
VERY NASTY STUFF.
Wear protective clothing INCLUDING face shield when working with it..
Lew
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Amen. I have a couple of scars on my arms to prove what just a small slip can do.
It takes about 5 minutes to go from an irritating burn to feeling like you have molten lava on your skin.
But is sure does remove old finish and gunk well!
When I refinish a door I set up to work where I know where an easily accessed water source is for emergency use. I make sure I have my box of nitrile gloves with me and change them often. I use a marker to write on my mask filters to make sure they are fresh, not expired, and buy new as needed. I wear goggles ( a must! ) , and work outside if possible. I set up a waste and debris catcher so that used applicators, gloves, brushes, and all the crap that come off the door goes directly inside.
Before I got serious about it, I thought that when you stripped you just put the stripper on, drank a cup of coffee and knocked the stripper and finish off. A few nasty chemical burns later, and some burning sensations in my throat that lasted a few days after stripping gave me a great deal of respect for stripping products.
I would use the less dangerous stuff (some of it actually doesn't work at all) but it is too slow, costs more in the long run, and runs out my time on the job to an unacceptable length.
I need to be able to strip/wash/sand/repair in one day. Then go back to finish the next. Those products that take a couple of hours to work just don't cut it. The stuff I get from one of my suppliers will raise the first layer of finish on almost all surfaces in less than a minute, and sometimes in seconds. Kinda scary to think about how strong that stuff is when I am typing this...
Robert
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Methylene chloride-free product, perceived by unknowing buyers as being safer. Unless you can't stand the odor, you'd be better off using a methylene chloride based stripper such as Bix or Zipstrip, since it works a lot faster than a slow ATM formula. For lacquer or shellac, use the appropriate solvent.
The mineral spirits in your can of Furniture Refinisher do nothing but bulk the product with a cheap, inert filler, increasing profits for Minwax.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.