I recently purchased some beautiful bedroom furniture which is all solid aromatic cedar.

  • The exteriors of each piece (such as drawer faces and the visible surfaces of the bed frame) are all covered in a thick plastic-looking poly which has darkened the wood from it's natural matt sand and brick coloring to glossy dark manila and even darker orange.

  • The interior of each piece (such as inside the drawers and the wall-facing surface of the headboard) appear to be completely untreated and look exactly how I want the entire set to appear.

All of the wood is thick enough that sanding away the finished surface would probably reveal the natural wood that I desire, but the finish is very thick where it is present, so I would like to remove some of it chemically before applying what is likely to be several weeks worth of elbow grease.

So my question goes out to those of you who have experience refinishing aromatic cedar...

How would you suggest I proceed with safely removing this finish?

  • As I've mentioned many times previous here stripping is always the preferable way to remove existing finish, and this is particularly the case where the finish was applied heavily or has built up coat by coat over some years to a thick layer. And as a follow-on, sanding is the worst way to remove finish. Some sanding is inevitable, but in an ideal world it would never be the primary means to remove old finish despite how commonly it's done these days :-/ What stripper to use is now a thorny issue as the best type, based on methylene chloride, is now restricted for sale in lots of places.
    – Graphus
    Aug 13, 2019 at 21:40
  • @Graphus, Thanks! Wish I had found your other posts with the search words like "Stripping" and "remove" which I tried. Thanks for helping me despite the repetition. On the methylene chloride recommendation, I fortunately do not live in California, so I still have the right to endanger myself with effective chemicals. I appreciate the recommendation and will use appropriate care. Aug 13, 2019 at 23:09
  • Wasn't sure if you were in the US, even outside of Cali you may find it harder to get than previously. I believe just recently (a few months?) the legislation was changed at the Federal level re. methylene chloride, due to a consumer advocate group's lobbying, citing some unfortunate (but in all cases avoidable) deaths. The risk is nothing to take lightly because it can kill, but on the other hand no one can deny that many hundreds of thousands of users over a good few decades have stripped with it and didn't come to harm!
    – Graphus
    Aug 14, 2019 at 7:35


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