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Cabinets, Furniture, Woodworks/Best chemical stripper for a table with catalyzed lacquer finish.


QUESTION: Hi Greg, I just bought a table which I believe is finished with catalyzed lacquer. There is no paint of any kind and the wood is bare underneath the finish. The problem is how deep the finish penetrates into the wood. I am under the impression it seeps into the wood quite a bit. What is the best strategy and products to remove this finish. I am able to dissasemble the table if needed. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

ANSWER: Hi Kristina, sorry about the late reply, I'm on vacation in Maine currently...first off, why do you want to strip this table? Catalyzed finishes are very difficult to strip, and some require very dangerous acid based strippers from the aerospace industry,,the typical catalyzed finishes do not "seep" into the wood, they are surface finishes and do not penetrate the wood very much, the problem is that they are crosslinked polymers that are very resistant to chemicals and other contaminants....therefore can be very difficult to remove. Often physical removal is waqrranted, (sanding off with agressive grits), but you might be able to restore it as well, but typically this is not a job for a novice...please post back-regards-Greg

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QUESTION: Thanks for the reply Greg. However, I'm stubborn and want to try to do it anyway. It's a beautiful table but I would rather have it a rich walnut stain than the oak look of it at present. I need some guidance and would appreciate some advice on how to go about it. I am patient and meticulous. That said I plan to go slowly with this project. Again, some guidelines on the actual stripping would be appreciated. The simple yet very important safety procedures and precautions I have studied in detail and feel comfortable enough to proceed.
What I do know about the stripping process itself:
-Work with small sections at a time. I plan to layer Rock-Miracle paint and varnish remover on about a 4-5 inch area at a time and once the chemicals start working/bubbling I scrape at it very carefully (so as not to damage the wood) to remove the finish.
-I plan to do small sections at a time until I can strip the entire table. Once I get through the table entirely I'd go over it with a second layer and repeat the process to make sure I got everything off.
-Then I plan to sand the wood first with a medium grit then a fine grit.
-Lastly I plan to clean off the wood with water. Let it dry fully and finally begin with the staining process.

Again, any procedural advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

I would try a small patch with the Rock Miracle first and see what happens...I have tried it before on a catalyzed Bass guitar finish and left it on for 24 didn't even remove the effect.If it does affect your finish, then I would not work in small patches,I would apply the stripper as thick as you can...lay it on in one direction, don't brush back in forth, thick, and let it work ...if it starts to look dry in spots, apply more until the finish starts to'll know pretty quick if it will come off or not..(it may take upwards of 30+ minutes for the stripper to affect the finish..)..then you'll have to see to what degree it comes off...sometimes the slurry will scrape off easily with a putty knife, sometimes it will fight you every step of the way and require gallons of stripper and multiple packages of coarse steel wool and a lot of major elbow will not know until you try.......

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Greg Scholl


Questions on Woodworking, wood finishing and refinishing of all kinds, repairing furniture and wooden objects, Architectural details, Woodturning, carving, tool usage, product usage, some chemistry as it applies to woodworking and related interests,cabinet making and furniture construction/design, etc. I have experience with all manners of colorants, finishes, paints, stains, dyes, glazes, and coatings, wood species recognition and usage,tool recommendations, blade types and recommendation,techniques and methods for many Woodworking related issues, etc.


Fine furniture restorer and cabinet maker for over 30 years,serving high end Antique dealers, Interior designers, Collectors in the CT area. Consulting for area Painting/Decorating and Building contractors on non painting issues..(staining, wood prep.,clear finishing, floor restoration and architectural detail restoration and repair, etc.) Sold, built, serviced, setup Home, Industrial, and Commercial stationary woodworking tools for a major tool retailer in CT. for three years, sold hand and power tools , provided knowledge, parts replacement, service, and on site service, Trade show Demo, and training as well.

Published in Fine Woodworking Magazine (12/97), included on Fine Woodworkings first "Best of Fine Woodworking" CD-ROM (2002) ...("27 year compilation of expert know-how")

Art School at Silvermine Guild in Norwalk, CT., 9 year apprenticeship in a European run Cabinet and Restoration shop in CT., various classes on subjects having to do with the field. Seminars from major Tool manufacturers, Skil/Bosch, Delta, Powermatic, Ritter, Porter cable, Milwaukee, Dewalt/B&Decker, Performax.

Past/Present Clients
Many varied clients including work on Martha Stewarts' Westport, CT. show house, many fine Antique dealers and private collectors in and around Fairfield County and in Woodbury, CT. (the Antiques capital of CT.), Golden Age of Trucking Museum,Consulting for area Painting/Decorating and Building contractors on non painting issues..(staining, wood prep.,clear finishing, floor restoration and architectural detail restoration and repair, etc.), local Museums and Historical Societies. For the last two years I have been employed with Schwenke Auctioneers Inc.- Woodbury Auction LLC., as a staff photographer,IT tech,and doing restoration and repair work as well.

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