How to Strip Stain From Wood

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Stripping the stain from wood is something you might do during the restoration of a piece. Find out how to strip stain from wood with help from a 46-year-old master precision craftsman in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: Furniture Repair Tips
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Hi, I'm Todd Languell, The Flying Furniture Guy from R & D Woodshop in Scotia, New York. Today, I'm going to show you how strip stain from wood. You see we have a nice oval table here; now, if you only want to work on the top of the table, plastic off skirt and down with paper and tape to save your, the rest of the table if you don't want to work on it. At this point, once you get everything taped off, I'm only going to do half of the surface so you can see the contrast. You can take your paste stripper, you can pour it right on. Take an old garbage brush, push it around, leaving that paste stripper on there nice, thick, even coat all the way around it. Now, the thing about paste stripper is that once you put it on, you want to leave it alone. The key to the paste stripper is leaving it on there at least 15 to 20 minutes to give it chance to work and not being impatient going back and forth over the top of it trying to test the finish to see if it's coming off. You can see it's already starting to work in some areas and those areas are becoming dry very quickly. And what you want to do for those areas that are drying out very quickly is you want to put a little bit more stripper over the top without really scratching it. You want to very very lightly pull that stripper back over to wet the areas that are dry. And you can see the entire area is, is really almost all gone as far as the finish goes; although it's still on the surface and what you want to do at this point is you want to take a scraper but you want to make sure that your scraper is, it's got a dull edge. You don't any real sharp corners on it because this kind of softens the wood a little bit and you can gouge the wood pretty easily during this part of the process. Working from one side, I like to catch the stripper underneath the table as it falls off. And you can see how soft this gets because it's, you can feel it with your scraper, the wood is so fresh and new right there underneath, and you can easily gouge this table and create more damage. So, once you get 90 percent of it off, the next part is to take a, a medium coarse or coarse steel wool and you can apply the stripper back to the table a little bit. You're then going to take the steel wool and you're going to give it a good once over. You can go cross grain, but I would recommend going with the grain whenever you can because you'll see the scratch marks eventually if you keep going across grain. If you think you need a little bit more stripper, you can see how fast it clogs the stripper. That's all the stain finish and residue that gets caught up inside the stripper or gets caught up inside the steel wool; so, you can rotate your steel wool around as well. Apply a little bit more. Okay. Now, once you're at this part of the process, there's a couple of different ways that you can, that you can continue to get the stripper residue off. At this point, after your steel wool, you have to neutralize the stripper. There's a couple of different ways that you can neutralize the stripper. If you can, you can use water; you can just use a rag, there's a little bit more sanding involve if you just use a rag. You can also use steel wool to neutralize and I'll show you the difference real quick here. Having sawdust, having use sawdust, you can see I can dry this piece of furniture right away if I've got sawdust to use. If I don't want to use sawdust, I use water and a rag to neutralize the stripper. I'll wipe the whole thing back down with water to get the stripper residue off of there because it will make the sanding process a little easier. Okay. After you've neutralize the stripper, you can take another piece of steel wool, medium coarse or sandpaper and you can go right back over this table to work the areas that need a little bit more attention. Okay. After the steel wool, I like to let it dry for at least 24 hours before I start to sand it. And the reason is is because if you don't, what's going to happen is that your sandpaper is going to get clogged up with stripper residue and any remaining stain a lot faster. But, I just want to show you real quick the contrast that you can get by adding a little sandpaper after the stripping process and how bright you can make this and get the, the remaining stain out of this piece of wood. You can see the sandpaper clogs up pretty fast. So, rotate your sandpaper often and you got the edge, just take care of the edge as normal. Another key point is you're better off using some type of stripper to get the finish off than using straight sandpaper to sand off the finish; because what's going to happen is you're going to create more damage and you're going to lose the profile and the definitions on your furniture if you sand off the finish. You're better off slightly stripping it, sanding it slightly and then putting a new stain and polyurethane over the top of it. You can definitely see the contrast from what's been stripped to what hasn't been stripped and how much stain we removed off of this piece of furniture. I'm Todd Languell, The Flying Furniture Guy and this was how to strip stain from wood.

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