What finish is on hardwood floor boards and how to get rid of it?

UKworkshop.co.uk

Help Support UKworkshop.co.uk:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.

bp122

Expert at Jibber-Jabber
Joined
20 Aug 2019
Messages
1,123
Reaction score
664
Location
Haddenham
I recently came across some planks of solid oak floor boards. Almost all of them have nails on the edge, which I am slowly removing a few at a time. I thought this would be a really good source of flat, strong timber for various projects around the house.

There is a really smooth finish on it, it looks to be like some sort of polyurethane but I'm not sure.

If for any reason I want to glue then face to face, obviously the glue won't stick (tried it, it just wipes off)

Tried sanding. 80 grit Abranet on my random orbital for 4 minutes on "turbo mode" should eat anything up, but the surface just gets cloudy and stays there.

Thought of placing them on the planer might work, it sounds promising but no joy really, it just goes over the planer and I didn't want to increase the cutting depth or give it another try.

Tried hand planing with my just sharpened no.5 ½ and it just glides on top without engaging.

Cabinet scraping wasn't successful either (haven't tried with a really sharp scraper yet)

Is this a chemical process to do this? I'm out of ideas.

Please share your thoughts and experiences.

Cheers.
B
 
You have just reminded me of a pine table I acquired, chipped and dented in places I decided to strip the finish off and sand it back to bare wood . Paint stripper failed, varnish stripper failed , as did the Stanley blade in clamp, next was cellulose thinners , heat gun , the sander all failed but I stopped short of fireing up the blow lamp. In the end totally stumped I got the table saw out and took of a few mil from each face , sanded it back and stained and varnished the timber , once dry I did have a few areas where the stain / varnish reacted with whatever the manufacture had treated it with- nightmare tbh . In your case maybe if you have a planer/ thicknesser that could work for you. Whatever that finish is even my belt sander couldn’t shift it -yeh that white dusty residue would just clog the belt up . Let us know how you get on .🤔🤔🤔
 
You have just reminded me of a pine table I acquired, chipped and dented in places I decided to strip the finish off and sand it back to bare wood . Paint stripper failed, varnish stripper failed , as did the Stanley blade in clamp, next was cellulose thinners , heat gun , the sander all failed but I stopped short of fireing up the blow lamp. In the end totally stumped I got the table saw out and took of a few mil from each face , sanded it back and stained and varnished the timber , once dry I did have a few areas where the stain / varnish reacted with whatever the manufacture had treated it with- nightmare tbh . In your case maybe if you have a planer/ thicknesser that could work for you. Whatever that finish is even my belt sander couldn’t shift it -yeh that white dusty residue would just clog the belt up . Let us know how you get on .🤔🤔🤔
Cheers. I am actually using a planer thicknesser in planer mode. Will try thicknessing a test piece sometime over next week and see how it does.

Perhaps I can cut a very thin veneer off and plane it smooth in the future, should I need any glue up faces.

Also good to know it's not just me 😂

Perhaps they should line battletanks with these, defence budget would drop dramatically!
 
Try using a sharp chisel as a scraper. You can get good downwards pressure with them, you might find the coating is sat on top and not really soaked in.
You could try nitromors or look for a chemical stripping service near you ( they dip it in and then blast it off with a pressure washer, although it can turn the wood grey if the chemicals haven't been changed very often ) go on, ask me how i know 🤣
 
If you thickness it, make sure you alternate the feed area ( i.e, dont run 50 boards through the centre of the thicknesser, run them through in different places ) otherwise it'll blunt the centre quickly
 
Try using a sharp chisel as a scraper. You can get good downwards pressure with them, you might find the coating is sat on top and not really soaked in.
You could try nitromors or look for a chemical stripping service near you ( they dip it in and then blast it off with a pressure washer, although it can turn the wood grey if the chemicals haven't been changed very often ) go on, ask me how i know 🤣
Ha ha, thanks. Unlikely I will be looking for a service as such. They will be used for scrap wood projects anyway. If I need double thickness without the fuss, I might just glue them back to back, so the untreated surfaces are glued.

In the end, I am genuinely impressed as to how strong it is.
 
Last edited:
If you thickness it, make sure you alternate the feed area ( i.e, dont run 50 boards through the centre of the thicknesser, run them through in different places ) otherwise it'll blunt the centre quickly
Good tip. Will keep in mind.
 
Cheers. I am actually using a planer thicknesser in planer mode. Will try thicknessing a test piece sometime over next week and see how it does.

Perhaps I can cut a very thin veneer off and plane it smooth in the future, should I need any glue up faces.

Also good to know it's not just me 😂

Perhaps they should line battletanks with these, defence budget would drop dramatically!
Yes it sure is tough, I think 🤔 it’s applied during the manufacturing process and put into some type of kiln which turns it into a relative of Kevlar. The stripper I used was nitromoors and it didn’t even react. And it’s definitely not just you. I’m sure there are furniture makers on this site that know what it is ( anyone) 🤣🤣
 
Not sure exactly what it is, but i used a bit of reclaimed in an outdoor project, and once the weather had gotten to it it started coming away in brittle sections, rather like a type of plastic film.

I'd run it through the thicknesser taking off 1/2-1mm and sand the bare wood after. I wouldn't try to sand off the finish itself, its bound to be nasty stuff and i wouldn't want that in fine format floating through the air.
 
Last edited:
Quite often the finish on flooring is a two pack polyurethane.
This does penetrate the wood.
I would run this through a thicknesser, but take a first cut of at least 1 mm
Basically, you have to remove the layer of wood that has been impregnated with the finish.

The analogy in metal work is machining cast iron. Your first cut has to get under the "skin".
If you try to cut the skin - you "stuff" the cutting tool.
Once you are under the skin , it cuts really well
 
A job for an electric hand plane. They have tungsten blades. Save the blades on the planer thicknesser for when its back to bare wood.
Regards
John
Haven't got one, I'm afraid. Need to see what I can do without as I don't want to spend on one at this point.
 
Quite often the finish on flooring is a two pack polyurethane.
This does penetrate the wood.
I would run this through a thicknesser, but take a first cut of at least 1 mm
Basically, you have to remove the layer of wood that has been impregnated with the finish.

The analogy in metal work is machining cast iron. Your first cut has to get under the "skin".
If you try to cut the skin - you "stuff" the cutting tool.
Once you are under the skin , it cuts really well
Understood. Thank you.

When I ran it on the planer, I couldn't get enough force to keep it down, so perhaps thicknessing is the answer.

This also reminds me, my blades are also blunt, I think. Need to sort that out.
 
Understood. Thank you.

When I ran it on the planer, I couldn't get enough force to keep it down, so perhaps thicknessing is the answer.

This also reminds me, my blades are also blunt, I think. Need to sort that out.
Good idea to have sharp blades for this job.
Am just reconditioning my machine and will get the blades sharpened.
I suspect getting enough force to hold the boards against the table is due to two things :
1 ) Blunt blades
2 ) the hardness of the "finished" surface
So, yes using the thicknesser, with sharp blades and a good depth of cut should solve the problem
 
I've used modern solid oak boards for projects in the past, two types with a hard finish as described. I found a normal heat gun with the small bahco carbide scraper worked well.
Doesn't leave a perfect wood surface but the hard layer is gone so you can move to planing and sanding etc.
Does give off some fumes mind.
 
Good idea to have sharp blades for this job.
Am just reconditioning my machine and will get the blades sharpened.
I suspect getting enough force to hold the boards against the table is due to two things :
1 ) Blunt blades
2 ) the hardness of the "finished" surface
So, yes using the thicknesser, with sharp blades and a good depth of cut should solve the problem
I probably should have asked whether your planer is a solid machine - hope so.
A slow feed speed would also help, if that is an option
 
I probably should have asked whether your planer is a solid machine - hope so.
A slow feed speed would also help, if that is an option
It's not a cast iron one, if thats what you are asking. It is an Axminster one which is a record power / metabo but rebranded.
 
If all else fails the hand-tool designed for the job is the scrub plane. Very fast and easy to use, plane at 45º and across again the other way. Fairly rough surface but you can follow up by machine or other hand plane, in nice clean wood. Mine is the ECE version of this Scrub plane
Not sure about modified steel planes for scrubbing but think the proper plane is probably a lot better.
As sawtooth-9 and Triton say above, you can mimic the action of a scrub plane by doing a deep cut through the thicknesser, so that most of the cut is in the clean wood below, but blades don't seem to last long with reclaimed timber - it only takes one bit of grit.
Doesn't matter if you nick the hand tool scrubber blade you just carry on, hone at intervals but don't bother to take out the nicks.
 
Last edited:
blades don't seem to last long with reclaimed timber - it only takes one bit of grit.
This is hardly reclaimed timber found in a skip or down by the railway. Theres not going to be any grit because its a finely finished piece of wood flooring coated in a hard finish.
Besides, one of those planes is £70 approx, new blades are £35. and buying a plane for the single use isnt tha6t cost efficient.
 
Sawtooth-9's comment is definitely one answer.
It involves good practice whilst planing, and not such a tool in which the cutter rides on the work, i.e the scrub plane.
Sorry I can't give a better answer ATM as the benches have half a ton of timber on them.
I wasn't even going to reply, as I have a few examples of such stock, which I thought
I hadn't worked, but then remembered I had, lol.

This is a good test of the correct technique, as if you're planing whats likely tough and hard timbers, then you won't get away with planing these in a vise, and the work will need to be planed on the bench.
This promotes good practice regarding actually being successful in getting the extremely tough finish off, as it requires accuracy and observation and not technique or skill.

Good practice is to be found by very few, Charlesworth will get you there,
if those videos are still around and Cosman if you can find either his old video or take hints from this newer example (bearing in mind he's still got his "rough to ready" grainy old production for sale) so he's not telling you everything and not doing what's good practice,
i.e who blasts off the far end of the work like that, no scrub necessary for this video.
Take what you can from this video, (timestamped for your convenience)
Note where the work is touching the bench, this is the reference you've got.
Keep your eye on that as these are your "visual feelers"
Provided your bench or planing slab is flat, and won't deflect,
that will be the solution should you decide to hand plane off the finish.

No placing wedges, using dogs, or anything else to deflect the work!
Just a single cleat or whatever at the end of the bench so the work can be simply butted against it.

Tom.
 

Latest posts

Back
Top