Furniture Stripping

When "Furniture Stripping" there are many things to watch out for.

You have followed carefully my instructions for cleaning antique furniture, but are not satisfied?

Perhaps the finish is crazed and broken down due to sunlight, it has had a coat of paint, or you just prefer the piece to look more respectable.

Antique Chest to be stripped and restoredKitchen Cupboard about to have the paint removed. Down below is a photo of the finished antique cupboard

Furniture stripping can be achieved using different methods

If you don't feel confident - then please use a restorer - it will save you much heart ache (and much money)!

You really must know what surface is underneath the finish you are wanting to strip.

Let's say you have a Victorian chest of drawers...painted white.

Well you can be fairly certain that under the white paint is veneer - or perhaps solid wood - but it is unlikely to be pine.

I know here in Germany it was the fashion to paint everything white around the 1920s - this happened in the better houses, so it was unlikely they would have had pine furniture.

Pine furniture was often painted later on in the 1940's and then not always white, especially after the war when people hadn't the money to buy new but wanted things to look different.

Of course much early furniture was also painted - especially in the south of Germany.

I am just trying to make the point here - that it is very important before 'furniture stripping' to determine what lies under the paint!


  • Take out the drawers and look at the sides - perhaps you will be able to see where the drawer front attaches to the sides what wood is there or if there is veneer.
  • Take the escutcheons off - this you must do anyway - often people just paint over these and the original finish can be found behind them.
  • If you can, scrape a little of the paint off and see what is underneath.

Stripping Furniture is not always as easy as it seems...

Antique Table in for restoration

The important point here is - what wood are you stripping?

Hardwood - cherry, mahogany, walnut, oak etc. should not be dipped - even if it is solid wood. Don't do it!

Paint or varnish can be removed using scrapers if you want to avoid chemical methods.

I do not recommend sanding any finish off - all you do is heat up what's underneath which makes it even harder to clean.

Varnish will mostly need paint stripper as well.

Shellac can be removed using spirits or alcohol.

Oil and Wax can be washed off with turpentine - or your hardware store might have a liquid wax remover.

I cannot repeat this enough -

Whatever project it is you have - Plan Ahead!

Antique Pine Cupboard Restored

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