(now that I have your attention - grin)
About 15 years ago I redinished an old family heirloom round oak table top
in Flecto Varathane. I had stained the wood and gotten the color exactly
right before putting the Varathane on. The Varathane bubbled like it was
carbonated. After letting it sit jn a back corner of the garage for a long
time out of shame, I'd like to tackle it again. What will strip off this
finish? I need a stripper rather than just sanding because of details
routed into the surface. Ideas?
Idea #1: If really precious, then take it to people who do this for a
living, and bite the bullet and pay.
Your heirloom, so work carefully at first on a small area not too
1. Take off as much as you can with a heat gun and sharp scraper. No
need to say you must pay attention to avoid marking. Don't be in too
much of a hurry so as to not leave any scratches.
2. If some is stubborn, mix 4 parts boiled linseed oil, 1 part mineral
spirits, apply, and leave it overnight. Then heat and scrape again.
3. Apply paint stripper liberally. Assuming most has been removed by
scraping, remove with rags ...lots of rags, reapplying as necessary.
One I stripped and finished to restain with one coat of varnish, over
a couple of days, was a walnut dresser for a friend using this
technique. Applying paint/varnish remover and rubbing torn rag strips
[lots of them] back and forth, like polishing shoes, around turned
legs made that part easier. I'd advise possibly restaining to even
things out after scraping, but that's your decision on what you see at
the end. Don't forget the toothbrush to get into tight corners. I've
also cut down an old paintbrush to make the bristles stiffer for that
Hint: Be patient. If no scrappy bit to work on first, apply some
stain and varnish to a bit of wood, let dry over a few days, then
practice on that to see effects.
Since you've already refinished it once, you won't do any harm in
refinishing it again. Any good finish stripper should do the trick. I
suggest using one that contains lots of methylene chloride so you don't have
to spend any more time stripping than necessary. The only thing you should
watch for is how much, if any, stain you will remove in the process. You
may need to lightly restain the piece by diluting your stain. Good thinking
about not sanding. There is rarely any reason to sand off a finish unless
you like removing all that wood and detail.
If you didn't do it the last time, make sure that your polyurethane and
table are at the same temperature before coating. You should also thin out
the poly with about 20% mineral spirits. This will give the bubbles a
chance to pop. Finally, remember to tip off the still wet coat as soon as
possible. This will also help to remove bubbles.
Ah... We had this happen to some cabinet doors at work on Friday, and
ended up rubbing the (in my case) laquer off with copious amounts of
laquer thinner and restaining before shooting with a polyurethane
instead, which did solve the problem. Of course, this was after only
an hour or so of the laquer being sprayed, so I don't know if it'd
still work in your case. Try some mineral spirits and let it soak for
a minute or two before giving it a vigorous rubbing. If you're lucky,
it'll take it off. If not, try a cabinet scraper for the flat areas
and a shaped scraper for the routed areas. Worst case senario, you'll
have to use a chemical stripper.
Nope. It works for lacquer because lacquer is an evaporative finish. Poly
cures chemically. You will need a checmical stripper to remove the poly.
I once screwed up a varnish finish on oak by bringing it in from a cold
garage then applying the finish before the wood was warm. As the wood warmed
up, the air in the pores expanded and formed lots of little bubbles.
Thankfully, I now hav a heated shop.
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