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Discussion Starter #1
This is my one and only bandsaw box I made for my mom about 5 years ago. I finished it with Tried and True varnish and it looked good at the time. Over the next 2 years it turned orange and doesn't look like maple anymore. The photos don't show how orange and dark it really is. But it has turned into a disaster.

Is there any way to remove this finish other than sanding a lot?

Thank you, Mike
 

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The orange color is due to the oil based varnish yellowing. On light colored woods like maple you should not use a oil based finish. It would be better if you used a water based polyurethane or a cab acrylic lacquer or a pre-catalyzed or fully catalyzed lacquer. Any finish that says it's acrylic could also be used. Anyway I would wait until warmer weather and strip the finish off with a paint and varnish remover. Removers don't do well below 70 degrees. They work better in the 80-90 degree range. I normally use Kleen Strip remover available at most of the box stores and walmart.
 

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I agree that stripping is about the only option. But I'd think carefully about trying it. Looking at the carving on that box you would be in for quite a job, and may well wind up with a mess.
 

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Thanks for the advice gentlemen. I didn't know it was bad to use an oil based finish on light wood. I will make note of that for future reference.

I plan to use Waterlox finish on it that I have left over from another project once I get the original finish off. It's a combination of things but includes tung oil and some sort of clear coat as it is used for flooring. Is that likely to yellow or turn orange like the Tried and True finish? It looks like T&T is linseed oil based.

Understood on a stripper may work but proceed with caution. I sanded a good bit of the main box yesterday and got most of the varnish off of the outside. I'm sure the box is a few ounces lighter now. Without question the more challenging part will be the drawers and around the drawer handles. I'll look into a stripping product and try that in an inconspicuous area. Based on how deep the oil had penetrated the maple I'm skeptical a stripper would pull all that out. I could see if it was something on the surface but down in the fibers like that? I'll check into it.

Thank you, Mike
 

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There's a couple of Waterlox finishes. If what you have is Waterlox Original, it's a varnish made with tung oil and phenolic resins. You may find that a bit dark for your taste, try it on another piece of maple first.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
It's "Original" but with a glossy finish. I just put it on a project and it looks nice now. I'm hoping it doesn't yellow or orange over time like Tried and True did. Perhaps the other compounds in it will prevent that unpleasantness. I picked up a (varnish) stripper at Woodcraft at lunch. I will give it a go tonight or tomorrow.

(I almost typed "I picked up a stripper at lunch"... the opportunities for misinterpretation abound on that one. My ex wife would have broken every dish we had before I could have explained it was a varnish remover :) )

Thank you, Mike
 

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The color is the result of using the T&T. T&T is linseed oil which will continue to yellow over the years. You can use a chemical paint remover containing methylene chloride to get most of the linseed oil off but you might not end up removing much of the yellow. A good part of the yellow is in the wood, not on the wood.

Using a dark amber varnish like Waterlox or Behlen Rockhard will add yellow to the item sort of defeating what I believe you are intending. You might want to consider using a light shellac or a waterborne clear acrylic to minimize adding more yellow.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I tried a paint stripper and it removed just a touch of the color but like you are saying the oil is down in the wood, so the only way to get it out is to sand a lot. I got the main box sanded and will start on the drawers as time permits in the next few weeks. I realize I may have to cut new faces for the drawers if they are too small and not visually appealing once the sanding is done... which is very likely.

Lesson learned, don't use oil based finishes on light colored woods. I will check into the light shellac. For sure I will go with something safe that ensures I won't have to refinish this piece again.

Thank you, Mike
 

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I tried a paint stripper and it removed just a touch of the color but like you are saying the oil is down in the wood, so the only way to get it out is to sand a lot. I got the main box sanded and will start on the drawers as time permits in the next few weeks. I realize I may have to cut new faces for the drawers if they are too small and not visually appealing once the sanding is done... which is very likely.

Lesson learned, don't use oil based finishes on light colored woods. I will check into the light shellac. For sure I will go with something safe that ensures I won't have to refinish this piece again.

Thank you, Mike
What kind of stripper did you use? I have pretty good luck with Kleen Strip remover rinsing it with a low powered power washer. It often takes most of the wood stain out of the wood and returns it back close to the natural color of the wood.
 
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