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Removing Paint from Antique Oak Furniture with Paint Stripper
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Q: I have an antique oak secretary’s cabinet that was painted with several coats of paint. I used stripper to remove most of the paint and have tried sanding the remainder. I can’t seem to get all the paint out of the pores of the wood although I’ve sanded and sanded. What do you suggest now?

Paint stuck in oak lumber pores Oak wood has large pores, which trap finish and paint, making refinish sanding nearly impossible, but paint stripper will get those last little bits in time.

A: I suggest you reverse course. By now you have discovered that, thanks to its large pores, trying to sand paint off oak is an exercise in frustration. Your problem is that you removed only most of the paint with the stripper when you should have removed all of it.

The key is to keep the stripper wet, as long as that takes, until all of the paint is softened and loosened. Then, using a stiff bristle brush, scrub until all the paint is out of the pores. By stopping your chemical stripping regime too soon, you gave yourself a passel of problems, but there’s nothing stopping you from backing up. Strip the piece again using a strong paint remover, and this time, be patient. Don’t take off the stripper until all the paint has been dislodged from the pores, even if that means adding more stripper to keep the wood wet until the job is completely done.

posted on October 1, 2008 by Michael Dresdner
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One thought on “Removing Paint from Antique Oak Furniture with Paint Stripper”

  • Chulinho

    I needed to remove paint from a teak veneer, with open pores too. Since it is a veneer, sanding is out of the question. I did remove the bulk of the paint with a paint stripper (chemical), but paint in the pores remained.
    The paint stripper has a gel like consistency, so that one can work on vertical surfaces etc, so I tried to thin the stripper with water and use a few soaked rags on the veneer, hoping that it would penetrate the pores easily, but that didn't make much difference (I used water after checking the safety data sheet for the paint stripper on-line and searching for the main components, but depending on the components, you might have to use alcohol)
    Anyway, I then tried with white spirits, but it didn't make a big difference either.

    Finally, I tried with Methylated spirits and it did work. I soaked a few rugs in the stuff, put them on top of the veneer so that the pores absorb it, put a plastic on top of it to prevent it from evaporating too fast, and left it there for 15-20 minutes. Then I removed the rags one by one and rubbed the surface with cotton buds following hte grain direction. I had to repeat the process 3 or 4 times, but there are no traces of the paint now.

    So bottomline is: find the right solvent for the stuff you are dealing with. you mihgt have to try a few things, but there are not so many different ones.

    Hope that helps

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