Step 1: Test the finish

John Thomas tests the finish on the door edge
Photo: Wendell T. Webber
«»
Thomas assesses the finish on an inconspicuous area, such as a door edge (below), by rubbing it with denatured alcohol. Shellac will come right off. But if the finish softens and doesn't come off, it's a water-based polyurethane. If nothing comes up, it's an oil-based polyurethane or varnish.
Ask TOH users about Furniture

Contribute to This Story Below

    Tools List

    • Natural-bristle chip brush
      Natural-bristle chip brush (for stripper)
    • putty knife
      Putty knife
    • pull scraper
      Pull scraper
    • Dental tools
      Dental tools
    • Toothbrush
      Toothbrush
    • shop vacuum
      Vacuum
    • Natural Bristle Brush
      Natural-bristle stain and varnish brush

    Shopping List

    1. Denatured alcohol

    2. Paint stripper

    3. Fine steel wool

    4. De-waxed shellac (Seal Cote)

    5. Cotton rag

    6. Cheesecloth

    7. Water-based glaze

    8. Wood dye

    9. Gloss spar varnish

    10. Mineral spirits (paint thinner)

    11. Satin spar varnish