There are three basic methods used by professionals: hot tank, cold tank and hand stripping.
Hot Tank In the hot tank method, the furniture is dipped into a tank filled with a hot solution of caustic soda. It is held under just long enough for the chemical to dissolve the finish. The piece then is removed from the tank and rinsed. Any remaining caustic soda is neutralized in a muriatic acid bath, whiclfis followed by a final rinse. Then the piece is allowed to dry.
The hot process is rough on furniture. Glue often is softened and veneers that weren't loose before may peel off. We suggest that you allow only solid wood furniture to be stripped by this method. If the piece has any plywood, veneering, or inlays, keep it out of the hot tank. The fact that the glue holding the furniture together may be softened during the process isn't bad if you planned on regluing. You may be saved some of the disassembly work.
Cold Tank In the cold tank method, your furniture is dipped into a cold solvent, methylene chloride. This chemical does not attack glues, so plywood, veneers and inlays are safe in it.
Disadvantages of Hot and Cold Tank In both bath processes, the chemicals are powerful and they have an effect
on the wood. When you get the furniture hack, you will probably find the wood surfaces rough, the result of wood grain raised by the chemical. The surface fibers will have absorbed moisture and lifted away from the underlying wood fibers. This means plenty of sanding to make the wood smooth before applying any stain or new finish.
You may be surprised to find that either the wood is a gray color, or that it still has much of the original stain on the wood. Stripping chemicals will remove any oil stains, but may not do much to analine or water stains. These latter soak deeply into the wood on application, and usually only part of them come off. In those cases where the stain does come off, the wood may not have returned to its original color. Instead it may now have a gray look-When you apply new stain and finish, you will have to take this into account, becausc the wood will darken quite rapidly.
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