I have recently purchased a mahogany china cabinet from an auction that I
wish to refinish. I started stripping the piece with a spray on solvent -
but I'm noticing something that I dont like!
It looks as if the stain applied before is not coming out like I need it to.
Maybe I have expectations that arent realistic (this is my first
re-finishing effort), but I was expecting the wood to be a natural-like
color after I stripped the original varnish off. Then...I called a
professional refinisher for an estimate...
He mentioned that what I have done is drive the stain from the original
finish further into the wood of the cabinet - and that it's basically
impossible to refinish at home! I would agree with his first point - but
because he wanted to charge me $900.00 to refinish the piece - I'm not ready
to give up yet.
Anyone have any ideas on what it takes to successfully strip the old finish
off of this cabinet? Maybe I'm missing some pretty simple techniques that
can make this job somewhat easier -
I'm in the final stages of refinishing a china cabinet, I had somewhat the
same Idea as you, and yes I was wrong, what I have ended up doing is
sanding the finish and stain from the whole thing. I started in June 2003,
all I have left is to put 3 coats of poly on the top hutch and I'm done
(yes I build several projects in the mean time), it's a very long and
boring process, my advice is get a good RO Sander a 1/4 sheet sander and
lots of sand paper FYI the Norten 3x sandpaper will make your life a lot
Chris Lang wrote:
He is protecting his $900 when he says it is impossible to strip and
refinish at home. A lot of folks have been doing this in home shops for
years. The bad news is that stripping and refinishing is a yukky, tedious
job. If the existing finish is somewhat in tact (and you haven't gone too
far) you might be able to improve the appearance without fully stripping.
There are some antique refinishers made by Formby's and MinWax that are a
mild solvent that partly liquidfies the surface finish and lets you spread
it back out with a rag or brush. I have also done the same thing with
liquid strippers and spirits. It really depends on the finish you are
working with. All of this assumes there is no paint on the piece.
You can very likely strip and refinish your cabinet at home but it will
be much messier, more costly, and time-consuming than I'm sure you
It isn't entirely clear to me what you describe. I am going to assume
that you had a lacquer topcoat since this is very likely to have been the
case. The solvent stripper dissolved the lacquer as well as any lacquer
toner coats. It won't necessarily drive the stain further in unless you are
giving it the chance to do so. If that is the case, you can try repeatedly
wiping down the piece with fresh rags and solvent until nothing more shows
up on the rag. This presupposes that you do not have any pigment stain
which may slowly abrade off the surface as the binder is removed by the
The real key is to keep the stripper wet and not allow it to dry on the
wood. I would even suggest wiping down the freshly stripped piece with
clean rags and fresh stripper dispensed from a squeeze bottle so that any
finish and stain left behind gets removed. It will also keep the finish
from redepositing back on the wood as it is cleaned, a common occurrence
when using mineral spirits to remove the residual wax from wax containing
By the way, $900 is a good price unless the cabinet is a small one.
Thanks for the reply - you did mention one thing that caught my attention.
I am stripping the wood with a semi-paste now - and i have been wiping
residue with mineral spirits...it seems to cause things to remain dark.
Is there another alternative for final wiping?
Try "Love Potion #9" - 2 volumes of toluene + 1 volume of acetone + 1
volume of alcohol. This is a finish stripper in its own right but is heavy
on the toluene to cut down on evaporation and to dissolve any wax from the
stripper. It also dries fairly quickly so you don't have to wait hours to
start sanding, staining, or finishing.
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