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Removing the paint finish from furniture

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I know this has probably been discussed, but I can’t find anything. And nothing much on google coming up. I need a quick/easy method to remove the shiny mahogany paint finish on mini furniture. It is Bespaq and quite detailed and I am impatient, so sanding isn’t an option. Do other people use a paint stripper? I have seen lovely finishes online where people partially remove the shiny finish, giving it a beautiful aged patina. Thanks!

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I think Sable @Sable has mentioned Xylene. I know it is sold at  big box 'Home Depot' type stores. It is a solvent. I haven't ever used it on minis. It is very caustic and flammable.

I bet you could find something milder and be able to get into grooves once a stripper is applied with a denture brush, or some sort of stiff bristled brush.

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I used Citristrip gel (aka orange goo) on some of the el cheapo $Tree mini furniture and it worked a dream; wear rubber gloves and use outdoors or in a well-ventilated area.

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37 minutes ago, Mid-life madness said:

I think Sable @Sable has mentioned Xylene. I know it is sold at  big box 'Home Depot' type stores. It is a solvent. I haven't ever used it on minis. It is very caustic and flammable.

I bet you could find something milder and be able to get into grooves once a stripper is applied with a denture brush, or some sort of stiff bristled brush.

Thanks Carrie - I will look it up!

16 minutes ago, havanaholly said:

I used Citristrip gel (aka orange goo) on some of the el cheapo $Tree mini furniture and it worked a dream; wear rubber gloves and use outdoors or in a well-ventilated area.

Thanks Holly - my sister had orange wax remover for her snowboard. I wonder if it’s similar? It wasn’t a gel though.

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Apparently we have Xylene but in 1 litre tins...

 

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Your hardware store person might know where you could buy smaller containers of xylene.  The orange stuff I used is definitely a gel.  I used a metal putty knife and a flathead screwdriver to work the old paint off.

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I did find an all purpose thinner that strips paint as well. Might try that.

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I used Jasco Finish remover to strip the paint from some tootsie toy pieces and they came out beautiful, clean metal. I plan to strip a wood piece using it, but expect it will dissolve the glue. If you’re just trying to remove the varnish, you might be able to do it using this with a q-tip swab, but make sure you are in a well ventilated area. The stuff is toxic. http://www.jasco-help.com/product/varnish-stain-remover

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What new finish are you going for? If you're going to stain it a different color, that could be difficult. Stain gets into the grain of wood and even on full-sized furniture it can be a bear to get completely out. Probably you and everyone else has a more delicate touch than I, but I know I would snap tiny pieces to bits if I tried to sand them down to bare wood. I have the busted farmhouse table to prove it.

If you're going for a painted finish, have you considered simply painting over the finish? Below is a pie safe I doctored up and aged. I'll grant you this isn't a detailed Bespaq piece (I think it's just a cheap Town Square or Classics, not sure), but I simply painted right over the finish. The last picture shows what it originally looked like. The picture doesn't show it very well, but mine started out with a pretty shiny mahogany finish, much like the sprayed on finish you're talking about on your Bespaq pieces.

Pie Safe 1.jpg

Pie Safe 2.jpg

Pie Safe 3.jpg

s-l1600.jpg

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6 hours ago, Dalesq said:

I used Jasco Finish remover to strip the paint from some tootsie toy pieces and they came out beautiful, clean metal. I plan to strip a wood piece using it, but expect it will dissolve the glue. If you’re just trying to remove the varnish, you might be able to do it using this with a q-tip swab, but make sure you are in a well ventilated area. The stuff is toxic. http://www.jasco-help.com/product/varnish-stain-remover

Thanks for the advice Deb. I was thinking of using qtips. I don’t want to go overboard! If it does dissolve a little glue, I am not too worried but won’t be using a whole lot of stripper.

Kelly, I am just trying to remove the shine and give the piece a worn, aged look. I may try to add some colour to it as I am worried about how red it might look afterwards, but will play it by ear. I won’t paint it unless as a last resort. In the past, when I’ve tried painting the red/mahogany finish pieces, the red has been very hard to cover and bled through the paint. It will be a little experimental!

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I would definitely prime the stripped furniture before painting it.

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I’m conducting an experiment on a piece that has a dark cherry varnish finish. It’s coming off and hasn’t fallen apart yet, LOL. I’ll post an image when it’s done...might be tomorrow.

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1 hour ago, shannonc60 said:

Kelly, I am just trying to remove the shine and give the piece a worn, aged look. I may try to add some colour to it as I am worried about how red it might look afterwards, but will play it by ear. I won’t paint it unless as a last resort. In the past, when I’ve tried painting the red/mahogany finish pieces, the red has been very hard to cover and bled through the paint. It will be a little experimental!

Got it. I misread your post. I saw "aged patina" and immediately jumped to aging and distressing. I took the shine off some glossy Bespaq oak bedroom pieces. They were too "white oak" for me and I wanted a more golden oak finish, and also without the shine.

I rubbed everything down with 000 steel wool. That stuff is pretty great because it's "mushy" and works its way into carvings and turned legs better than sandpaper. That at least took the shine off. I then used Zinsser matte shellac with an amber tint. It comes in clear finish too so you won't get that yellowed look I was going for.

I tried it on the back side of the headboard first, and I'm glad I did. It was really, really thick, like honey. I thinned it down with ... something ... some kind of alcohol or thinner, sorry, can't remember what it was. You could probably find out what to use by Googling. Anyway, I was quite pleased with how it all turned out. It was a farmhouse - same house that pie safe went into - so I didn't want that gleaming, fresh off the boat from China look.

I'd suggest first giving the steel wool a try if all you want to do is remove the sheen. You may find out futzing with the shellac isn't even necessary.

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Holly, yes me too. I am a primer advocate! Haha!

Excellent Deb - I look forward to seeing how you go. I didn’t get to the hardware store today but will when I am out and about next.

Kelly, I think the old fashioned finishing techniques look nicer. A softer sheen rather than the full on shine. And love your “fresh off the boat from China” quote! Spot on. Unfortunately the armoire has very fine fretwork so don’t want to be sanding and pushing on it. It’s this one: https://miniaturedesigns.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=42218

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Hey Shannon,

I used paint stripper I bought from Home Depot on a Mahogany daybed from Bespaq and it worked well. 

I covered the complete piece in paint stripper - I had a hard time keeping up with removing the finish before the stripper dried. I believe doing it in sections will work better. Or taking the piece apart with help of a hair dryer. The glue gets dissolved by the paint stripper, so the piece comes apart anyways. I cut an old gift card into thin stripes to use as scrapers. That worked really well. 

Problems I ran into: Because the wood pieces are so small, the individual parts soak up liquid and become soft and bendable. I had a tiny piece break off and had to replace it. I would recommend being extremely careful when drying the pieces so they do not warp. 

If you use paint stripper you will still have to sand the whole piece. Any form of liquid will raise the grain and sanding is a must for a finished look. I made sanding sticks from 600 and 1000 sanding paper to use - could not have done it without it.

In this picture I used the old upholstery which came off rather easy. I have not glued it down yet, so it looks 

large.IMG_1992.JPG.2a24b1fc160b15be38e31

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I soaked the piece in remover and the finished is coming off really well. It's not completely stripped yet but I took it out of the solution and wiped it off for the photo. it had the standard dark shiny red mahogany finish. Surprisingly, the glue didn’t let go. Yet. :D 

http://www.greenleafdollhouses.com/forum/?app=gallery&module=gallery&controller=view&id=137208

 

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39 minutes ago, Soapz said:

Hey Shannon,

I used paint stripper I bought from Home Depot on a Mahogany daybed from Bespaq and it worked well. 

I covered the complete piece in paint stripper - I had a hard time keeping up with removing the finish before the stripper dried. I believe doing it in sections will work better. Or taking the piece apart with help of a hair dryer. The glue gets dissolved by the paint stripper, so the piece comes apart anyways. I cut an old gift card into thin stripes to use as scrapers. That worked really well. 

Problems I ran into: Because the wood pieces are so small, the individual parts soak up liquid and become soft and bendable. I had a tiny piece break off and had to replace it. I would recommend being extremely careful when drying the pieces so they do not warp. 

If you use paint stripper you will still have to sand the whole piece. Any form of liquid will raise the grain and sanding is a must for a finished look. I made sanding sticks from 600 and 1000 sanding paper to use - could not have done it without it.

In this picture I used the old upholstery which came off rather easy. I have not glued it down yet, so it looks 

large.IMG_1992.JPG.2a24b1fc160b15be38e31

Chris, the bed looks great!

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6 hours ago, Dalesq said:

Chris, the bed looks great!

I was just going to say the same! And thanks for your tips. I like the sand sticks idea and will make some.

 

6 hours ago, Dalesq said:

I soaked the piece in remover and the finished is coming off really well. It's not completely stripped yet but I took it out of the solution and wiped it off for the photo. it had the standard dark shiny red mahogany finish. Surprisingly, the glue didn’t let go. Yet. :D 

http://www.greenleafdollhouses.com/forum/?app=gallery&module=gallery&controller=view&id=137208

 

Thanks Deb I saw this photo. It looks just like I had in my mind so thanks for posting. Interesting that your soaked it in the varnish remover without the glue dissolving. 

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1 minute ago, shannonc60 said:

I was just going to say the same! And thanks for your tips. I like the sand sticks idea and will make some.

 

Thanks Deb I saw this photo. It looks just like I had in my mind so thanks for posting. Interesting that your soaked it in the varnish remover without the glue dissolving. 

I didn’t leave it more than a couple hours or so. :D The finish was partially dissolved and some of it clinging like a film which I wiped off with a shop towel. I might soak it one more time, or try a swab to remove the stuff I couldn’t wipe off.

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It worked well. I think I want to leave some finish on but will see how red it is.

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If it's too red you could always tone it down with a different color stain.

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8 hours ago, havanaholly said:

If it's too red you could always tone it down with a different color stain.

Yes. I do have some stains and lots of paints so will see how it looks when I am done. The armoire is finished on the back too, so I can test it out there first.

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I did a couple more soaks in the solution, and all the finish has been removed. I took out the clock face because I wanted to replace it anyway. And third soak removed the glue left behind from the face. I’m happy with how the clock turned out.

Today I decided to try this technique on an intricately done Bespaq piece. It is a dark mahogany stained coffee table that had a repaired leg (that I didn’t notice when I got it at a flea market). The finish is coming off nicely, but some of the tiny embellishments are coming apart, so this wouldn't be a technique that I’d use on an expensive or complex piece if I wanted to preserve it.

It works great and fast on Tootsie Toys. The Mattel Littles take long long soaking and some steel wool after to remove the finish.

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Interesting Deb. Thanks for the update. I am worried about the fretwork on the armoire. I am going to try using cotton swabs with the paint stripper and hopefully that gets enough off to make a difference. I don’t want to ruin it. I can always paint it if I have to, but don’t think it would suit the style.

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5 hours ago, shannonc60 said:

...I am worried about the fretwork on the armoire. I am going to try using cotton swabs with the paint stripper and hopefully that gets enough off to make a difference...

If the fretwork comes off, keep it' after everything is stained the final color/s and dry carefully glue everything back together.

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