Varnish Removers & Paint Removers

Varnish Removers & Paint Removers

How to remove varnish and paint, information on paint removers and varnish removers with instructions to make your own solutions.

Craftsman Style

¶ There are certain liquids which a finisher can use to remove paint and varnish, such liquids as benzole, wood alcohol, caustic soda and water solutions, ammonia, etc., but as a general proposition it will be found that it is most economical to use the factory prepared patented liquid and paste removers. The cost may seem high, but it also costs money to fuss around with mixing solutions with which you are not entirely familiar and which seldom work as effectively as the patented removers. In these days of high-wage scales time must be reckoned as money.

¶ There are two or more grades of patented removers on the market. They are made in thin liquid form for flat surfaces and in thin paste form for vertical surfaces. The cheaper grades of removers depend upon wood alcohol and benzole largely as the solvents for action, while the more expensive and better removers use acetone as the principal solvent. Most of the removers sold now are made under the same license patents which cover the use of wax in the removers to prevent the very volatile solvents from evaporating too rapidly and before they have dissolved the old varnish or paint.

¶ It pays to buy the best quality of patented removers as a rule. When they work too fast on large surfaces to permit scraping off the old varnish before it gets hard again, add more wax to the remover. Place the can of remover in a pail of boiling hot water and when the liquid is hot shave into it a few ounces of paraffin wax. Then it will remain wet longer and permit you to do a cleaner job. Also it is well to coat not so large a surface at a time when the remover permits the varnish to get hard again.

¶ There are many formulas in use among furniture finishers and others when a large number of similar surfaces are to be treated, such as stripping off the finish on many school seats. These removers must be handled with rubber gloves and with care generally because most of them burn the skin. Also they will turn the wood to a darker color if allowed to remain on the surface too long. Following are some of the common formulas used:

¶ Remover Formula No. 1

¶ 20 ounces caustic soda (98% strength),
100 ounces of water,
Dissolve the caustic soda in the water a little at a time,
20 ounces mineral oil (light machine oil),
20 ounces fine sawdust.
¶ Mix the oil into the water and soda by stirring well until an emulsion is formed, then stir in the sawdust well. Run the whole mass through a paint mill or mixer and use the paste while fairly wet. Allow time enough for the remover to work, then scrape off the softened paint and clean up the surface thoroughly with water in which a little vinegar has been mixed to neutralize any soda left on the surface.

¶ Remover Formula No. 2

¶ 8 pounds caustic soda (98%),
1 gallon water - dissolve the soda in the water,
8 pounds bolted whiting,
4 pounds corn starch.
¶ Mix thoroughly and use as a wet paste. Add more water if needed. Apply with old brushes, let stand long enough to soften the paint and scrape off. Use rubber gloves. Wash up with water and a little vinegar should be mixed into the water to neutralize the soda that may be left on the wood in the pores. Such soda would destroy new coats of paint or varnish if not washed off or neutralized.

¶ Remover Formula No. 3

¶ 4 ounces benzole of 90 degree strength,
3 ounces fusel oil,
1 ounce wood alcohol.

¶ Remover Formula No. 4
¶ 5 quarts benzole, 90 degree strength,
2½ pints acetone,
½ pint carbon bisulphide,
2 ounces paraffin wax.
¶ Mix the benzole and acetone, then add the last two items in the order given.

¶ Remover Formula No. 5

¶ 1 gallon benzole, 90 degree strength,
1 pint fusel oil,
1 pint acetone,
ounces paraffin wax.
¶ Mix the benzole and fusel oil, add the acetone and finally the wax.

¶ Remover Formula No. 5

¶ y2 lb. laundry starch dissolved in a little cold water,
4 tablespoonfuls strong lye (household) dissolved in 3 pints water.
¶ Mix both solutions together and apply with an old fibre or bristle brush. Let the remover soak a while and scrape off the old finish with a putty knife, scraper or steel blade.
¶ This is not likely to burn the skin unless soaked in it too long, but it will discolor wood. After using this wash make the surface clean with water. Then brush on a coat of ordinary table vinegar to neutralize any trace of lye left on the wood. If the wood is too much stained to be finished light it may be bleached.

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