How to Remove Lacquer with Solvents

When you are doing refinishing work on your one of your old furniture, you are required to strip off the existing lacquer finish in order to touch up the furniture and apply them with a new fresh colored lacquer. Lacquer is made of hard coating shellac or also known as plastic resin that enables the furniture to be protected from scratches and also moisture. One way of removing lacquer of your furniture is by sanding the lacquer off the furniture, but you must bear in mind that it can sometimes damage the wood if you do it on a tight area or even on detailed woodwork surfaces. Therefore, it is recommended that you use solvent solutions known as lacquer stripper to enable you to remove any hard coat finish.

To remove lacquer with solvents, you need:

  • Drop cloth
  • Lacquer stripper
  • Glass bowl
  • Paintbrush
  • Rough rags
  • Wood scraper
  • Respirator or face mask

Removing Lacquer with Solvents

How to Remove Lacquer with Solvents

  • The first thing to do is to find a suitable area for you to work with the chemicals involved.
    • It is recommended that you choose an open space or in an area with a well-ventilated area.
    • Then, you have to place the furniture or wooden object at your work area.
    • Whenever you are using solvents or stripping chemicals for removing lacquer or paint, the chemicals will definitely produce a toxic smell that can make you feel sick immediately.

Always make sure that you place a drop cloth beneath your work area. By taking this measure, you will prevent any chemicals that you plan to use will not drop onto the floor or workbench.

  • The next step is to take a glass bowl and pour only a small amount of the solvent or stripping chemical that you want to use.

You must bear in mind that solvents or stripper chemicals are highly dangerous flammable and toxic. You must always keep them as far as possible from fire and wear face mask or a respirator when you are dealing with them.

  • After that, you have to take a paint brush or a paint sponge and dip it into the glass bowl with the solvent or stripping chemical and then proceed with the painting of the surface of the lacquer that you want to remove with the chemical.

The total amount of time that you need to allow the chemical to take effect depends on the solvent brand and the type of lacquer stripper that you use. For very good solvent solutions, it will work immediately after you apply them. However, in many cases you need to wait for at least two to 12 hours to see whether it works or not.

  • Once finished, you have to wipe the wooden surface until it is clean using a dry, rough textured rag
    • Clean the surface with the rag in small sections and using different parts of your textured rag. This is to avoid and prevent the old lacquer to spread around to other area of the wood.
    • Then, you need to also wipe off any excess from the solvent on the textured rag into your glass bowl. By doing this, it will help you reduce the number of clean rags that you have to use.
  • Next thing to do is to take a wood scrapper to scrap away any stubborn lacquer or left over lacquer.
    • Always make sure that you scrap the left over lacquer very lightly and following the grain of the wood. Be extra careful as to not to dig into the wood’s surface as it will damage your furniture.

    Always remember that when you have finished using your wet rags

    • Do not throw all your wet rags into one place or pile them up in one area. This is because lots of stripper chemicals can create heat whenever you use them and even a pile of rags used to clean the product can burst into flames of fire.
    • Make sure to hang every wet rag that you have used for cleaning the stripper chemicals on a clothes line to dry them thoroughly. You can also place the wet rags in a bucket filled with water so that they will be neutralized.
    • You need to keep any lacquer thinner, solvent or other stripper chemicals in a safe area and also ensure that the lid is closed properly.
    • Any lacquer thinner, solvent or other stripper chemicals that have been used are considered as hazardous waste where you need to dispose them off accordingly by following the guidelines provided by your local waste authority.

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