Stripping methods for wooden furniture and antique

Stripping methods for wooden furniture and antiques, based on the original coating of the item, and with respect to the finish you need to achieve.

Why strip furniture? Mark Biggelaar from Earthwood, says,"Today lots of people still prefer wooden furniture and for a number of these people, the older the wooden furniture, the better. Once wooden items have grown to be old and well used, they often bear the scars of their use, and have faded. There comes a period when such items ought to be either refurbished or fully restored to be able to prolong their usefulness."

Refurbishment or Full Restoration?

Refurbishment is the process of taking out the original coating, whether lacquer or beeswax, oil, or shellac, and re-applying a brand new finishing coat to brighten the piece of furniture up.

By comparison, a full restoration would be to remove coatings and go ahead and take item back to the initial wood, just like it had been developed by the craftsman before it received its first coat of stain or protective coating. This means that essentially you are beginning with raw timber.

We’ll look at both of these options.

Refurbishment may be the easiest option and one more suited to an antique that needs to look the part. Full restoration requires more effort to produce a perfect surface with all of dents and scratches in the substrate removed.

Generally a beautifully aged antique will lose its authenticity under full restoration but occasionally careful restoration is not only warranted, and can extend the life of the item. Always check by having an antique dealer or professional restorer to determine a great way.

More about this topic

    Restoration of Wooden Objects and FurnitureHow to Care for Antique FurnitureStripping Wood Antiques the Fast and Easy Way

    Shellac Coatings

    Although shellac has been around for centuries, it wasn’t until the 19th century that it started to be used more predominantly as a wood finish and several antiques from that period were coated with it. Shellac coatings became extremely popular in the western world before the 1920s once the technology of lacquers and varnishes became more reliable and produced quicker, stronger options.

    Despite the trend towards engineered coatings, shellac produces a fantastic finish and personally, I love its look, feel and smell. Shellac actually blends with the substrate and gives the appearance of being a member of the wood. The effect is achieved with the approach to application that involves hundreds of minute layers being blended together to create a finish that can’t be duplicated by spray methods.

    Stripping Old Furniture Finishes

    Removing old finishes can be achieved in many ways but the most common, and easiest, is to use a chemical stripper (paint stripper), especially on paint and two-pack lacquers. The down side to this of using a chemical stripper is that water is needed to wash caffeine off. This can sometimes result in the substrate rougher of computer could be if the options of manually taking out the coating with steel wool and solvents were used as follows:

    · Oil and beeswax finishes – use turpentine and steel wool (use circles gently –wiping completed areas with cotton rag along the way to see how things are progressing).

    · Old shellac – use methylated spirits and steel wool.

    A lacquer thinner and steel wool can be used on some older coating products for example lacquers and shellacs.

    No matter what method you utilize, always trial a little hidden area around the item to be certain you’re using the removal technique which works best for that one item.

    Next Step Restoration and Refurbishment Processes

    To perform a full restoration, varnishes, oils and lacquers need to be completely removed, bringing the product back to its original timber and hopefully, colour. The next thing is to sand the top to create it to the original timber and remove all marks.

    For refurbishment only, after you have removed the conclusion using the solvents you ought to be prepared to apply protective coating, but if you aren’t entirely pleased with the type from the surface, then try using very fine paper (240:400 grit) and/or steel wool to abrade to the desired texture.

    You’re now ready for the next step of selecting an appropriate coating.


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