Old furniture wood reclaiming

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Alasdair

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Hi there have a random source of furniture ie tables etc. Whats the best way of removing old paint varnish etc if I want to re use the wood. My friend clears houses and sells antiques and quite often gets old hardwood tables pianos etc that are being skipped. He just gave me a couple of solid mahogony table tops 5 foot x 3 foot x 3/4" thick and will keep an eye out for anything else thats solid wood. One is painted with multiple coats of who knows what and the other is varnished I think . No legs this time just the tops. I thought of sanding or planing etc but perhaps there is an easier way. I also got a pile of old cedar wood from an old greenhouse a while back which is also painted with multiple coats of again god knows what? A bit wary of sanding in case its old lead based paint!!!
Alasdair
 

Doug71

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Can depend on the finish but often a scraper something like this will cut through layers of paint quickly.

 

Jacob

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You can still buy the old Nitromors type but it's supposed to be trade only, though many aren't bothered - try Ebay.
Plastic scraper.
Also helps if you have sawdust or coarse PT shavings - pick gloved handfuls up and rub it in like a pan scrubber and it soaks it up at the same time.
 

Alasdair

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Did think of stripper but its horrible to use and messy. I still have nitromorse etc in the shed. Another option was a heat gun/blow torch. The blow torch is quick but you can scorch the wood easily and the electric heat gun I have would take ages. A scraper sounds like an idea. My dads old time served joiner friend used to just cut a piece of glass and use that. When it got blunt he just cut another bit.
 

recipio

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Just skim it through a thicknesser if you have one. It will take a half a mm or so to get below the paint layer. Extraction is essential.
 

Alasdair

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Is old paint and varnish etc likely to damage the blades? I am rebuilding a thicknesser but the blades are almost obsolete and cost a fortune to replace and have to come from Germany
Alasdair
 

Adam W.

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Card scraper as suggested up thread ^^

I made my tool chest out of old mahogany tables, they are just the right size for a full sized traditional tool chest.



IMG_3213.JPG
 

Alasdair

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Nice tool chest. The amount of beutiful wood thats thrown away is criminal. I am sure some of the older wood is much superior in quality and grain density to new and being free does help a lot. Just goes against the grain (excuse the pun) to see it going to waste. Hoping to encourage my son who is really getting into woodwork and engineering science at school. Hopefully he will be able to teach me as I am a bit new to this. Most things I have done are more joinery work than carpentry.
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Adam W.

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Thanks.

The mahogany was hand planed as it can be a little uneven. If you put it through a planer it might take a lot off to get it flat enough.

With hand planing, I could live with a little bit of undulating as I'm not a flat surface fetishist. It was very satisfying to build the chest from stuff which was going to be thrown away and it was nice wood to work with.
 

TheTiddles

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Watch out for old paint, lead wasn’t banned till quite recently and some methods of removing it will chuck it up in the air for you to inhale, so scraping and paint stripper are the safer options. But, on the plus side it tastes sweet
 

TRITON

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Brown furniture.

Some of these old tables that have fallen from grace are a real boon for us makers. I saw some months ago an oak table, double drop leaf solid top in quartered oak with fantastic medullary rays. It had barley sugar twist legs and supports and the charity furniture shop wanted £50
The top section and leaves measured about 3' by maybe 20"
The thickness of the top was about 1".

Think about how much a highly figured solid section of quarterd oak, measuring 36"x20"x1" would cost you and multiply that by three.
You could even paint and turn the legs into tall candlesticks and flog them off as some interior design piece and make back the initial cost.

Or 'deco' style wardrobes with a heavy single piece veneer front, that is incredibly detailed and is probably unobtainable today, or unless you spent a serious amount of money.
Remove that front veneer or utilize it in other ways to make something else.


I got these out an old door i found in a skip. They are 36" long,by between 8 and 9 inches wide, and 1/4" thick, and very stable.
DSCF2882.JPG
 
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Ttrees

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Concerning thickness, the scraper might have some use for thick veneers,
and for thicker stock, the hand plane being by far the easiest... provided you don't have any bad habits.
Correct technique gets the cutter under the finish, while bad technique just dulls the cutter if its often coming out of the cut.
Just plane it like the paint/varnish isn't there.

Definitely wear some glasses!!!! and a hat would be nice but not important.
Metal detector maybe essential if outdoor paint is involved, i.e doors and such.
 

baldkev

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I use my chisels as scrapers. Quick to touch up, sharp, easy to hold and because i dont own a card scraper. I dont do it often but have, a few times, to remove varnish from doors and worktops.
 

Jacob

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Concerning thickness, the scraper might have some use for thick veneers,
and for thicker stock, the hand plane being by far the easiest... provided you don't have any bad habits.
Correct technique gets the cutter under the finish, while bad technique just dulls the cutter if its often coming out of the cut.
Just plane it like the paint/varnish isn't there.
Bring on the scrub plane. This is what it does best!
But a lot of reclaimed stuff can be very thin and this is where you need the paint stripper. If you get sorted with lots of planer shavings or sawdust to scrub it off and soak it up it's much less messy. You'd need to do it over polythene sheet, wear rubber gloves, wellies, apron, have windows open, but you can vacuum it up
 

Ttrees

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@Jacob
I have some examples in a big stack of door rails which I have had for a few years,
(before I paid attention to David's advice, and only that)

What a mess I made of a few pieces with reversing ribbon stripe grain.
I can plane those now with thick paint on, without that happening.
A scrub plane would be an absolute nightmare here.

Makes a case for having a steep angle on the cap, rather than setting it too close,
so it can be set further away and allow a wee bit of camber.
This camber is still very small, i.e one could possibly get away with over a 1/32"
and still get a near perfect finish, needing only one or two swipes with a smoother
to make perfect.

I've honed the cap to 70ish briefly before, after getting some damage from cement...
Can't say that I used it enough to get the hang of that setting, seemed a bit touchy compared to 50, though I might go back to that on the beater plane.

The thing is... I wonder if it might be troublesome on a Bailey double iron,
when one wants to take it out of the equation.
I recently needed to retract it completely working on some wet ash,
I must question Warren about this, as he's suggested extremely steep before,
whether he suggests this on a Bailey or something with a thick iron, as far as I know
he's the only one who goes steeper than this.

Tom
 

MARK.B.

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When i strike lucky and pick up a decent piece o_O I might save a few pieces in a way that preserves something with a nice bit of character , or if simply wanting to return the wood to its pre finished state of nakedness :eek:, Then i swop out the blades in my thicknesser for a set of old ones kept just for this sort of work . May take a few mins to switch blades but if there are a few pieces to put through it saves time and for me at least a whole lot of work/effort (y)
 

TRITON

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I use my chisels as scrapers. Quick to touch up, sharp, easy to hold and because i dont own a card scraper. I dont do it often but have, a few times, to remove varnish from doors and worktops.
Stanley blades are the best I've found.
All the doors in my flat(5 in total) are douglas fir, about 80 years old and with I can tell you at least 20 layers of paint, varnish and i suspect shellac.
I cleaned the majority off with the big scraper featured above then used stanley blades to 'cabinet scrape' them back to bare.
They are a million times better and an asset to the house

I used the blades when sharp by holding them at 90'deg to scrape back varnish, then as they blunted off a rub on a diamond stone to create a burr then used in the standard card scraper style.
Yes i burned my thumbs many times :LOL: but compared with the extricated 'technique' of sharpening a standard scraper, using and reshapening was a doddle. So much so ill likely never use another cabinet scraper again. Stanley blade all the way for me from now on. Cheap enough so theres always a sharp on to hand and if you want to use a burr on it, far more simple to produce.
 

Adam W.

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Bring on the scrub plane. This is what it does best!
But a lot of reclaimed stuff can be very thin and this is where you need the paint stripper. If you get sorted with lots of planer shavings or sawdust to scrub it off and soak it up it's much less messy. You'd need to do it over polythene sheet, wear rubber gloves, wellies, apron, have windows open, but you can vacuum it up
A scrub plane would gash up reclaimed mahogany and oak table tops very badly.
 

Keith 66

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Most of my timber is recycled, I find it washed up on the tideline, breaking up old furniture, from a mates scrapyard, the yacht club bonfire.
Old furniture was often french polished it scrapes off really easily with a scraper & sander. Personally i would never put any painted article through a thicknesser, i have done it but the risk of ruining the blades is too high, apart from the paint dulling the blades you WILL hit a hidden nail or screw sooner or later.
If someone brings you a piece of wood to thickness & says "I have checked it for nails" you can almost guarantee this will happen!
A coarse sanding disc on an angle grinder is also good at stripping old paint prior to planing.
 
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