General Rules for Removal Old Finish
1. Do nothing that will harm the original surface without the piece is to be painted.
2. If you plan to replace the old finish with a clear type, all old finish must be removed so the new will hold properly.
3. When removing old paint it is not only acceptable but acceptable to most collectors that the marks of wear through the years, as well as traces of color from the old paint be allowed to remain so that they will show through the new finish. Traces of old paint add interest to the piece by their variations of color, and are evidence of age. Old paint however, should not be left on in thick patches or blotches.
4. For final cleaning, after using a remover, use a cabinet scraper or knife blade on joints, corners, and angles on flat surfaces. Use steel wool to clean out carvings, turnings, moldings etc.
5. If the old finish is shellac, you do not need a paint and varnish remover. It can be taken off with denatured alcohol and steel wool.
Selecting Your Paint Remover
Commercial removers are solvents rather than corrosives. They act more slowly on older paintings than on new, but they are the only materials that can be used safely. They attack the material such as linseed oils used in paint, or the resins in shellac, varnish, and lacquer. It will not injure a surface by burning it or leaving marks and will not be harmful to glue or raise the grain of the wood. They contain no water and may be used on veneered surfaces without causing the veneer to loosen. When used properly and washed off, solvent-type paint removers leave the surface clean. Dislodging layers of old paint or varnish is not difficult, but patience, time, and-following the directions on the container are required.
How to Remove Old Finishes
Dislodging layers of old paint or varnish is not difficult, but it takes patience, time, ans perseverance. Here are some basic directions for using paint remover.
1. Place the piece to be worked on over layers of old newspaper in good strong light, and if possible, with the top surface in a horizontal position. Avoid working in cold temperatures below 68 degrees F – cold slows down the action of removers.
2. Shake the remover thoroughly, pour a small amount into a small can and apply thickly with a full brush in one direction. Do not rebush.
3. Let the remover stand for a period of from 10 to 20 minutes, or until the paint or varnish lifts.This is indicated by a crinkling of the surface. Do not let the remover dry. If it begins to dry, apply an additional coat and wait for it to act.
4. When the surface covering has lifted, remove it with a dull putty knife that has the corners rounded off. Remove the accumulation of remover and finish and wipe the knife on a piece of old newspaper.
5. Wipe off as much of the remaining finish as possible using burlap squares.
6. Scrub the surface with a small brush dipped in denatured alcohol.
7. Wipe off with multiple clean cloths.
8. Rub the surface with steel wool dipped in denatured alcohol.
9. Wipe with cloths dipped in alcohol. This not only cleans the tracks of remover from the surface but neutralizes its further action. Follow by wiping with clean cloths dipped in turpentine or paint thinner.Then wipe with dry rags. This will remove any remaining wax or silicone polish that may have been used on the finish in the past. 10. Allow to dry thoroughly for at least 24 hours.
Removal Deeply Buried Paints
A deeply buried paint can be removed entirely or partially by a simple procedure. This is paint usually left after you have removed the previous cotes with remover or light scraping. Because it's so simple it's worth trying.
1. Apply a liberal coat of shellac with a brush and let it dry for at least 24 hours.
2. Use the remover as previously directed. All or part of the buried paint will come off with the shellac. Be sure all tracks of the remover is gone and the surface is completely dry before applying a new finish.
Source by Kenneth J Ellis