Need Help.....Old Growth Redwood...Can I sand it? - Redwood Picnic.jpg (0/1)

I recently acquired an 8 ft picnic table made out of heavy (2 inch thick) old growth redwood.
It has the remnants of a light varnish job on it and I would like to get that off and smooth the surface.
Anybody have thoughts (Pro or Con) on using a belt sander for the first pass on the sanding and then go to an orbital sander??
Any thoughts on how to best get the old varnish off??
Any thoughts on putting varnish on redwood? Is there a better alternative for a piece like this that will be subject to the outdoor elements?
I am in north central Florida. High humidity.
Thanks for feedback
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I am not an expert by any means, and I am sure people will let me know it, but my thoughts would be use a stripper to get rid of the varnish, or at least most of it, then sand it. The varnish will just clog up your paper if you try to sand it all off. Then, and I am probably wrong as far as the true professionals would say, but I would think that maybe linseed oil would be a good natural treatment.
I will be watching to see what everyone else has to say about this.
Ron
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I built a dresser out of some New Guinea Rosewood, and when done I put on some Behr 630 highgloss Poly clearcoat. The wood went from "slightly dull reddish" to "HOLY CRAP THAT'S AMAZING".
Putting anything with colour in it, is a crime -- go for protective clearcoats that bring the natural colour out.

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On Tue, 02 Dec 2003 13:10:29 GMT, Serial # 19781010

Scrape it. (Yes, that will take -more- than 1 minute.)
<http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.asp?SID=&ccurrency=2&page2670&category=1,310,41069>
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Thanks for the feedback. Taking the old varnish off as a start point makes sense.
What about using a belt sander on it? What would be the recommended approach for smoothing and prepping the surface for the new coat of whatever I put on the surface?
I have had a couple of people recommend the possibility of using a linseed oil rather than a varnish.
I noticed Larry, that you provided a web link below to additional information. Apparently. I could not bring that link up.
<http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.asp?SID=&ccurrency=2&page2670&category=1,310,41069>
wrote:

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Yeah, but I think I'd remove it mechanically, not with a chemical stripper. Redwood's fairly porous, and it'll soak up a lot of that stripper. The stripper will carry varnish into the wood; between that, and the stripper cooking out over a period of several days, it could be pretty tough getting a new finish to cure properly.
Sandpaper's not the best thing, either. If it were my table, I'd start with a card scraper to remove the old varnish. Just be careful not to apply too much pressure, or you'll damage the wood.

Belt sander? On redwood? BAAAAAD idea. Very bad. Redwood is very soft. Belt sanders remove material pretty fast. On soft wood, they can leave deep gouges in the blink of an eye.
Use a card scraper. Or a random-orbital sander.
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek-at-milmac-dot-com)
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On Wed, 03 Dec 2003 12:23:30 GMT, Serial # 19781010

You'll go through a lot of wood and a lot of belts to get there. If that's OK with you, and you don't mind ripply surfaces and lines where one side dipped into the wood 1/4", go for it. ;)

That'll work fine. Your great, great, great grandfather probably used it on his redwood bench.

When links don't work, try the base URL: www.xxx.com (.net/org, etc.) www.leevalley.com , search on "cabinet scraper"
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Doesn't really apply to your situation, but I got some redwood from an old deck that had a fair amount of that sad looking gunk called "redwood stain" on it. Since it was in pieces (mostly 8 ft 2x4s) I simply ran it all through my planer (yeah, the blades were near to the point of needing sharpened anyway). I have made a number of very pretty projects from it including plant stands, boxes, my router bit case, etc. I found that for such indoor uses blonde shellac looks great as does satin poly. It is a very pretty wood when not allowed to weather and not coated with that fake red crap.
Dave Hall
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Thanks for that feedback Dave.
I don't really have the option of dismantling the table.
It looks like I am going to have to strip the remnants of the varnish and then sand.
I am considering a belt sander for the heavy work on the first pass over the large flat areas. Any thoughts on that pro or con?
Dave Gibbs
On 03 Dec 2003 05:12:27 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@cs.com (David Hall) wrote:

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If you can control your belt sander better than I can control my Craftsman belt sander, then it sounds fine. Since I have a 6" PC ROS, I would get some 40 grit disks for the initial sanding. I can control the ROS better than the belt sander. Yeah, I know the trick is to keep the belt sander moving, but I get dips and troughs and just nasty results. Of course I haven't had that damn belt sander out for a few years now. (Of course it IS the tool and not the tool user, ya know...!) Watch out for nail heads. Try sinking them below the surface prior to scraping or sanding if possible.
Dave Hall
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If you don't mind it turning a natural/typical grey, leave it untreated. That is what I do with my 3" patio table. No trouble, no ugly finishes to look at. If food stains the top, linseed oil will even out the color (by making it darker.
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snipped-for-privacy@cs.com (David Hall) wrote in message

If this really is good, hart, old growth redwood sanding it with a belt sander would probably be fine. Although it is still a soft wood the old stuff is much harder than any redwood you get from second and third growth. Someone told me amonia would strip varnish but I really don't know. Maybe that was shellac.
Speaking of redwood picknick tables. I live in No. California where a lot of the redwood is harvested. My boss has an old redwood table in his back yard and the top is cut from one piece of wood. It is one piece of wood that is 4X8 feet and 4 inches thick. The growth rings move accress the top witht he center of the tree in the center of the table. It sits concrete legs. I have no idea how old it is but it looks like it has been there forever.
Greg
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On 4 Dec 2003 12:58:35 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@windsweptsoftware.com (Greg DeBacker) wrote:

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