Scraping Off the Finish

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Stripping Furniture Can Require Scraping off the Finish

Scraping the finish off an old piece of furniture can be a great project. Once the finish is removed, the piece can be refinished and made to look like new! But before jumping too far ahead, it is important to learn a little bit about the process of furniture stripping. Depending on the condition of the furniture, scraping off the finish can be time consuming.

Required Tools

In order to effectively strip paint or old finish off furniture you will need certain tools – including safety equipment. Make sure you have the following on hand before beginning your project:

  • Old clothing (long sleeve shirt and long pants)
  • Old shoes that cover your toes
  • Goggles that will effectively protect your eyes
  • Heavy duty rubber gloves
  • Floor covering
  • Old containers that can be thrown away (for placing the stripper and paint/finish that is removed)
  • Paint scraper(s) or putty knives
  • Other stripping tools

How to Get Started

As stated earlier, the stripping process is not difficult but it can be time consuming if you are dealing with a piece of furniture with a lot of intricate woodwork. Furniture with many old layers of paint or finish may also take longer than a piece with only one thin layer that must be removed. Regardless, the process has become much easier over the years partly thanks to chemical strippers that do much of the work for you!

First, make sure the floor in the area you are working is completely covered with a drop cloth. Second, make sure your entire body is protected from the chemicals that might splash or splatter on you as it is applied and scraped. Third, make sure to open the windows and turn on fans to circulate the air.

After you have read the manufacturer’s directions and correctly applied the stripper to the furniture, you must wait until the stripping chemicals have a chance to work. In most cases, you can begin scraping off the finish within 15 minutes. If you begin hand scraping and you realize the finish is not coming off readily, that is a sign that additional stripping chemicals must be applied or the chemical should be allowed to sit for a longer period of time.

The Process of Scraping

Scraping off the finish of old furniture is a messy job! The globs of old finish that are removed with scraping tools are sometimes referred to as “sludge.” This is the residue that should be placed into containers that will eventually be thrown away. A putty knife as well as other types of scraping tools is necessary. Areas of the wood that are ornate cannot be scraped with a large putty knife. Different tools are available for scraping small areas such as these.

Scraping off the finish with the appropriate tools is not difficult. But the process can take patience because some old finishes can be stubborn. It might be necessary to repeat the process a few times to remove multiple layers.


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