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enter image description here Hi all!

This has been my first experiment into restoring furniture and so far it hasn’t been a success.

I started out by using wood stripper and I did a few coats and it was very hard to get off and tricky to work with. I used methylated spirits to check if the finish was removed but it looked patchy and glossy in some areas so I used my scraper too. Then I saw some black dots appear so I used Oxcalic acid.

I’ve also sanded but I’ve reached a point where I can’t tell if all the finish removed or maybe I’ve just gone too far with the stripping and ruined the wood.

Any help on next step would be very appreciated.

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    Hi, welcome to StackExchange. Thanks for including a photo (you'd be amazed how often queries like this get posted without any photos) but it's been resized so the full image clicking takes you to is the same size as this preview. We could do with having it, and hopefully one or more close-up photos showing a problem zone, a lot larger. In fact don't resize them at all, full size from the phone or camera would be perfect thanks.
    – Graphus
    Aug 9, 2022 at 23:29
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    Unfortunately it's now fairly common to have these sorts of results with modern safer, and especially 'greener', strippers. Not only because they're less effective than older versions but also due to some modern finishes being very tough and chemically resistant. "I used methylated spirits to check if the finish was removed" Good job on doing this confirmation check as it did tell you that the previous finish wasn't all removed (which is certainly what it looks like in the photo but very hard to be sure since it's so small).
    – Graphus
    Aug 9, 2022 at 23:39

1 Answer 1

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I’ve also sanded but I’ve reached a point where I can’t tell if all the finish removed or maybe I’ve just gone too far with the stripping and ruined the wood.

Wood without finish should look uniformly similar - not blotchy. Some wood does have uneven patterns. For the wood in question, if you not sure, look for some unfinished wood inside or under the furniture). In this case, the wood is rather uniform. It should feel uniformly similar after sanding (smooth) as well. The entire surface should look even and similar when wet with water or alcohol, without blotches. Often a strong raking light will reveal if there is still residue of finish left.

While there is little detail in the resolution of the photo, it looks like you still have more finish to remove. Assuming the top of this piece is solid wood (and not veneer), feel free to apply more stripper and sand again. You won't ruin the wood (unless you really try hard!) Be mindful of the sides of the top and the underneath of the top since it overhangs the rest of the piece of furniture. This is a common location missed when stripping furniture.

Note: it is possible to not remove all the stripper, which itself can leave a blotchy residue, so follow the instructions carefully.

Another note: if the furniture was stained originally and then finished, then stripped and sanded - it is possible that the blotchiness is due to some of the stain being sanded away in some areas and not others.

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  • In the context of the original Q generically you're right, but your first para is misleading because there are numerous woods that are innately blotch-prone, In species where the blotching is going to be bad (e.g. most pine and a lot of cherry) it's even evident when wet with water or another clear liquid.
    – Graphus
    Feb 8, 2023 at 7:21
  • I have tweaked the answer to mention your point and the possibility of sanding away stained wood unevenly. Thanks.
    – ewm
    Feb 9, 2023 at 14:41

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