Home>Discussions>INTERIORS>Molding & Carpentry>90 year old varnish. Strip or not?
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eilif
90 year old varnish. Strip or not?

I've just salvaged a house worth of 90 year old Oak trim, decorative woodwork, a couple of doors and a built-in buffet/China cabinet from a Chicago 2-Flat. It's all got about 8 or so layers of paint/Finish on it. My desire is to finish it with a clear (possibly stained) finish and replace all the fake-wood trim that currently infests my home.

With a heat gun, the 7 layers of paint comes off pretty easily and leaves behind the wood and a layer or two of what I assume is the original varnish/finish. My questions are these:

1) Do I have to remove this also and go down to the bare wood, or can I can I clean it up and leave it on?

2) If I leave it on, what should I use over it and how should I prep the surface?

3) If I need to strip that last layer off, what chemical will most easily and cleanly remove it?

Sombreuil_mongrel
Re: 90 year old varnish. Strip or not?

In my experience the chemical stripper to use for after-heat-gun varnish removal is "Kutzit" by Savogran. It's a thin liquid, very fast acting. Work outside in the shade. If you can orient the boards vertically, with the bottom in a pan of the stripper, and brush it on starting from the top, letting the chemical flow over, you'll be amazed at how quickly and easily this goes.
Don't get it on your skin and wear goggles.
One quick swipe with steel wool (#1) to remove the residue is about all you'll have to do.
I always precede the stripper with a quick once-over with the hand scraper to break off any leftover crumbs of paint from the heat gun.
S_M

JLMCDANIEL
Re: 90 year old varnish. Strip or not?

You might want to try a little alcohol first.
Jack

eilif
Re: 90 year old varnish. Strip or not?

Thanks,
I'll try some alcohol first, and then the Kutzit.

I also have Naptha and mineral spirits at home. Should I try them?

JLMCDANIEL
Re: 90 year old varnish. Strip or not?

Naphtha and mineral spirits are likely to be ineffectual. The alcohol will work if the finish is shellac rather than varnish.
Jack

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