use of caustic soda to remove old oil paint

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On 29 Jul 2004 00:42:30 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@gmx.de (chablisa) wrote:

I have used caustic soda quite a bit as a paint stripper, it seems to give mixed results, but always works better when hot.
It is nasty stuff, though and you must wear gloves and goggles. It also is a bit rough on the wood, but it cleans up well enough.
Do it well outdoors, in an area you can hose down the whole mess when done.
I have been meaning to do a small trial mixing caustic soda with wallpaper paste to make a "caustic gell" Most of the paint strippers are a gell, so as to hold the stripper against the wood for a longer period.
Barry Lennox
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The cornstarch gels it nicely. Dunno about paint, but it's pretty much worthless as a stripper on Helmsman exterior polyurethane.
(chablisa) wrote:

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Use caustic soda as a last resort. It is pretty vicious stuff and can damage the wood if you don't know what you are doing.
You don't say how large the cupboard is but I will assume that it is small enough that you can handle and turn it on a large suitable surface.
You don't indicate how old it is. I realize you have said "oil paint" but I do not know how you determined this. If it is very old, you may have milk paint. There are specialized removers for this that are safer than caustic. If it is indeed oil paint, there may be lead in it so don't go for sanding or a heat gun. All but the milk paint can be removed with standard methylene chloride containing strippers although there are removers made specifically for paint. BIX makes one that is a powder you mix with water.
The best thing you can do is to buy a small quantity of a methylene chloride based stripper and try it out over a small area. If it works, you have just saved yourself quite a bit of time spent on specialized safety precautions.
One of the most difficult aspects of stripping paint is if the paint was applied to the raw wood. It is MUCH easier to strip paint from something that had a clear coat finish and was then painted over. Paint tends to lodge in all the pores, splits, and cracks so well that a fair amount of time spent in getting it out.
Good Luck.

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Have read several times shellac after stripping then restrip pulls paint from pores. No experience.
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I have done this myself and have come to the conclusion that the shellac is really just forcing you to do a second complete stripping. If you do a good, thorough job the first time with good quality chemicals, equipment, and technique, any paint in the pores will either come out or will require a brass brush, pick, etc. The shellac won't help.

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