Are we ready to continue? (Wow, do I sound like an 8th grade teacher or what? Wait a minute, I did used to be an 8th grade teacher! I guess that explains it!) I'll try to make this a little more fun than 8th grade...
If you have a piece of furniture that is either a) too stubborn to be sanded down to the raw wood, or b) has lots of spindles, various other rounded surfaces or lots of little crevices that are hard to get with sandpaper, you may have to use a liquid stripping agent. It's not that scary, really!
First, head to your home improvement store and get some stripper. (Let's hope people don't Google "stripper" and end up here. This is SO not what they are looking for!) I would also pick up some acetone (also pictured above) for the post-stripping phase. Mineral spirits or denatured alcohol work just as well too.
You should also grab some steel wool pads and maybe some of these little metal brushes. The brushes work especially well if you are stripping stubborn paint. Then, head to the bathroom and get you a roll of toilet paper. My grandfather used to swear by it when he refinished furniture, and who am I to argue with tradition?
I have this little wooden trunk that my husband and I have lugged around to three different houses. We keep saying we are going to refinish it. I am hoping this tutorial will actually prompt us to do it! So we'll use it as an example.
First step: sand the wood as best you can. If nothing else, it breaks down some of the stubborn layers and might make stripping a bit easier. I sanded the heck out of this piece, though, and couldn't get down to the wood, so I knew that I would have to use the liquid to get the job done.
Next up: get to a well-ventilated area, and slap some of that liquid stripper onto your piece of furniture. I used a foam brush to apply mine. Word of caution: wear some protective gloves for this part. This stuff can hurt if you get it on your skin! And, of course, follow the directions on the bottle before you follow my idiot's version!
Let the stripper sit for as long as you have the patience, or whatever the directions tell you. Mine sat for about 30 minutes. Then, grab one of these little scrapey-tools (see photo) and just scrape the stripper off. You should have some kind of trash can or receptacle ready, but be sure it's not one you care about because it will get all gooey! In the photo above, I scraped most of the stripper to the edge, then used some toilet paper to soak it all up and wipe it off.
Then I went back with the acetone and my steel wool pad and gave the wood a good scrubbing. Steel wool works well because it gets into the grain of the wood and can remove more goo.
Then I went back with toilet paper and wiped with the grain of the wood to get the last of the goo. As you can see, it really works!
Finally, I let it dry and then went over the wood again with some sandpaper (starting with a 60 grit, then 100 grit, and then 150 grit). If you scroll back up to the first photo, you can get a good sense of how much crud came off this thing!
Stripping furniture involves a lot of elbow grease, especially if you are removing paint and planning to stain the piece. Somehow when you apply the new stain, it will reveal every last speck of that ugly green paint that you thought you had removed! But don't be afraid...you won't hurt the wood. It's very forgiving. Just get in there with your steel wool, metal brushes, toilet paper, sandpaper or whatever else you think might get the job done!
And once your piece of furniture is stripped, it's on to the fun part! Next week I will show you how to make it pretty again. :) Have a great weekend!