Best way to remove stain from old furniture? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 04-02-2019, 01:41 PM Thread Starter
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Best way to remove stain from old furniture?

I have been using CitriStrip stripper on an old dresser, and after 3 coats it still looks like the photo below. It’s taken off some, but not a ton. Any recommendations on better products or better methods to get the stain off so I can stain it a different color?
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post #2 of 7 Old 04-02-2019, 11:43 PM
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It may be stripped about as good as it's going to get unless you take it to a furniture refinishing shop and have it done. Big brother has recently banned the chemical that makes paint strippers effective to the DIY. Citristrip is a pretty crummy product but I can't say I know of one better. You might use a random orbital sander with some coarse paper and try sanding the rest off. Start with 60 or 80 grit and sand the majority of the color off and change paper to a finer grit and continue. Keep going until you at least sand with 180 grit. It also helps make your sanding more effective if you dampen the wood and raise the grain between grit changes.
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post #3 of 7 Old 04-02-2019, 11:45 PM
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I have been using CitriStrip stripper on an old dresser, and after 3 coats it still looks like the photo below. It’s taken off some, but not a ton. Any recommendations on better products or better methods to get the stain off so I can stain it a different color?

Oxalic acid. Will bleach the wood. Do this before you sand and it will save you a ton of sanding. Sanding to remove stains is the last resort and often leaves a uneven mess that will require more work.

Available at Home Depot, but cheaper at Amazon. Good for many things in the workshop.

https://www.amazon.com/OXALIC-Ethane.../dp/B01IPL7MZ6
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post #4 of 7 Old 04-03-2019, 12:36 PM
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For a top, I recommend block sanding. Start with 100 grit and work through 180 grit. Even a small orbital sander can get you uneven on a flat top. Okay to use initially but go to block sanding with full even strokes to complete the finish sanding.
Hopefully the top is not veneer.

If you don't have time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it over?
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post #5 of 7 Old 04-03-2019, 07:41 PM
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If the piece is in good shape structurally, I'd follow Steve's advice about having commercially stripped and washed. If there is stain left, then bleaching with the oxalic acid or bleach. Then lots of sanding as the wood will be pretty rough afterwards.

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post #6 of 7 Old 04-04-2019, 12:05 AM
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Oxalic acid. Will bleach the wood. Do this before you sand and it will save you a ton of sanding. Sanding to remove stains is the last resort and often leaves a uneven mess that will require more work.

Available at Home Depot, but cheaper at Amazon. Good for many things in the workshop.

https://www.amazon.com/OXALIC-Ethane.../dp/B01IPL7MZ6
Once my back is healed up enough from back surgery where my wife :) and my doctor are satisfy enough where I can tinker around the woodshop again I have a project where I have alot of grooves and cuts that need to be cleaned of old stain but cannot afford to have it done commercially so wonder how good oxalic acid is. Now I dont care how long it has to stay to get te job done and bleaching the wood is not a big concern but how good is it really? I miss the stuff that uncle sam took away. And soaking the wood be better or just wipe on and let it sit?

Marlin
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post #7 of 7 Old 04-04-2019, 08:27 AM
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Once my back is healed up enough from back surgery where my wife :) and my doctor are satisfy enough where I can tinker around the woodshop again I have a project where I have alot of grooves and cuts that need to be cleaned of old stain but cannot afford to have it done commercially so wonder how good oxalic acid is. Now I dont care how long it has to stay to get te job done and bleaching the wood is not a big concern but how good is it really? I miss the stuff that uncle sam took away. And soaking the wood be better or just wipe on and let it sit?
Oxalic acid bleaches the wood. It does a good job for me. For stripping wood of varnish, lacquer, or shellac finish, use a stripper first. Either a commercial stripper or a homemade stripper of either TSP or lye.

Then, if stains remain, use oxalic acid. Oxalic acid is particularly good at removing black/brown tannin stains in oak and other woods with tannins. But it works well overall to remove other stains, including those applied stains.

Regular household bleach can also be used to bleach wood, but I find oxalic acid to be more effective and requires no neutralizing after use as does bleach.

While applied finishes have new names, there's not much that has changed in finishes in 100 years, particularly in removing them, though in many cases the strippers are now underpowered.

Oxalic acid is just another tool in the arsenal.
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