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Gower

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Hello All,

I've obtained several old oak tables which I've dismantled. I used my orbital sander to remove the old surface coating (Wax?) and managed to clog up lots of new discs. Any ideas on getting back to bare wood?

Regards,

Jim
 

Philly

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Hi Jim
Use a cabinet scraper to remove most of the finish-these are really cheap (about £2) and remove old finished really fast! Then use your electric sander to fine finish.
Hope this helps
Philly :D
 

Sgian Dubh

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Jim, if it's wax try and save a lot of hard work, wasted disks and needless scraper sharpening by using a solvent and a fine grey abrasive pad-- Scotchbrite is one brand name. Slop the solvent on, let it do it's softening trick and scrub off the finish in the direction of the grain-- a cheap plastic scrubbing brush can help, but even better is an old fashioned wooden brush with natural bristles.

You might want to go slightly coarser to the green abrasive pad, or to the even coarser maroon coloured stuff which is unlikely to hurt oak it being so open pored.

The solvent can be white spirits or alcohol (meths) or even lacquer thinner.

If it's not wax, it might be shellac, and alcohol will dissolve that leaving it easy to strip with the nylon pad.

If it's neither wax nor shellac it might be a varnish, and lacquer thinner will often soften it enough to strip, but better would be a methelyne chloride (sp?) stripper. Nitromors original is probably the most readily available for the amateur and the swiftest. Follow the advice/instructions on the can for first class results.

One advantage of a chemical stripper over manual stripping is that the original colour/ tone/patina is retained, which may (or may not be) important to you.

You need to wear appropriate protective clothing (overalls and heavy duty chemical resistant rubber gloves) fume/paint spray mask and goggles for methelyne chloride type strippers. Slainte.
 

Gill

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Sgian

I've always been very cautious of using solvents in the manner you describe for fear that they might penetrate the wood and damage it. I've heard this can be a big problem with some dip n' strip treatments for clearing large objects, such as pine doors.

Have I been worrying about nothing?

Gill
 

trevtheturner

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Gill,

I'm not sure exactly what the dip 'n' strip merchants use but, IIRC, it is some kind of caustic solution bath that the item is dipped into. Then they take to it with 'decorators' tools such as scrapers and shave-hooks, digging-in and scraping off edges, etc. I believe, too, that immersion in the solution can cause penetration into joints, thereby loosening old glues before the final hosing down (pressure washers?)!

They certainly don't take the care that you and I would. In my experience I have used proprietary stippers to remove hard finishes, e.g. varnish, without any adverse effects. Messy old job, though.

Cheers,

Trev.
 

Adam

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Gill":3e1qdh9e said:
Sgian

I've always been very cautious of using solvents in the manner you describe for fear that they might penetrate the wood and damage it.
When we moved into our house, the previous occupant had had all the doors stripped. They leaked a kind of white "powder" for several months - I had to vacuum them with a brush attachment. Wetting them with whitespirit seemed to temporarily remove it, - in the end, I took them outside and varnished them!

Adam
 

Sgian Dubh

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The solvents I itemised, alcohol, white spirits and lacquer (cellulose) thinners won't cause the problems you're worried about Gill. They also don't raise the grain, or raise it only imperceptibly requiring no more than a very light sand with something like 320 grit abrasive paper.

They can occasionally cause slight leaching of an original dye or stain if the carrying medium was the same as the solvent used, e.g., alcohol used to strip shellac over a spirit stain base. The colour can be adjusted after stripping if required, but it's seldom been a problem in my experience.

Dip'n'strippers use caustic soda based stuff and this can cause problems. It penetrates glue lines and joints, and the process raises the grain often very badly, often requiring sanding back hard to get a smooth surface ready for repolishing. The sanding back cuts through the original colour and patina revealing fresh wood. If the caustic soda isn't thoroughly washed away it can also cause the new polish to lift and other problems.

Methelyne chloride (I can never remember the proper spelling!) strippers shouldn't cause problems if used as per the instructions on the can.

I prefer Nitromors original in the yellow can if buying it from a DIY outlet. (Some of the other versions of Nitromors are neutralised with water which raises the grain.) One trick with this stuff if there's a lot of layers to remove is to daub it on and wrap the item in a plastic bag or sheet to prevent the stuff drying out. You can leave the item like this all day to let the stripper do its work making paint and polish removal quite easy.

Nitromors in the yellow can is neutralised with alcohol or white spirit, although I've also used lacquer thinners. I generally prefer white spirits because it evaporates slower. I buy generous amounts of white spirits-- it's cheap-- and spend a lot of time scrubbing out any traces of stripper from cracks and crevices where it might lodge with cloth, wire wool, nylon pads and stiff bristle brushes.

After stripping and any minor light sanding required a good first coat over the now bare wood is a dewaxed shellac to seal it. Shellac is very tolerant of less than perfect surfaces, and importantly dewaxed shellac can be used safely underneath any subsequent film forming polish, even water based stuff like quick drying water based varnish. And don't water based polishes need something underneath them to warm them up? I haven't yet found a water based polish/varnish that performs satisfactorily-- they all look either cold, dead, flat, milky, blue tinged or lifeless, and sometimes all those faults at once, ha, ha--- ha, ha, ha.

Regular shellac can be used under nitro-cellulose type polishes and under oil based varnish, but it always just seems easier to stick to dewaxed stuff. You can get dewaxed shellac in pale to darker colours if your sources are good, and I use a trade supplier so mine are.

Anyway, enough of this drivel. I've work to get on with and there should be enough information here for you to go on with.

You have been worrying, I wouldn't say, about nothing, but you don't need to if you follow some essential guidelines and precautions. Slainte.
 

Gill

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Thanks, guys. That clears up my concerns :) .

Gill
 

Gower

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:D Thanks everyone for info. I'll let you know how I get on!

Jim
 

Sgian Dubh

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Jim, I see you're in Cardiff. One of my suppliers is based there- it might be worth getting in touch with them. They manufacture polishes, etc.. Slainte.

Fiddes,
Florence Works, Brindley Road, Cardiff, CF11 8TX
Tel : +44 (0) 29 2034 0323,
 

Shady

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I almost feel I'm missing something: but if it's dis-assembled, why not run everything through the planer /thicknesser? Prep the stock and remove the old finish?? I've done this with several things like old bunk beds that the boys grew out of, but that I was too tight to throw away...
 

Sgian Dubh

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Doing as you say can often be done Shady, but it reveals new wood. All the original colour and patina is gone, which is fine if that's the look you're after.

Chemical stripping leaves the old surface intact as it was after however many years the piece existed therefore allowing you to retain the colour/patina the wood had under the old polish.

I wouldn't say either approach was the right one. It depends on the piece and the purpose of the refinishing. Slainte.
 
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