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How to strip a Dining Room Table:

.........or any other type of table




I have been refinishing furniture for almost 30 years now. I hate to admit it, because it makes me sound old....but it's true. It probably comes as as no surprise that my least favorite aspect of the job is stripping, yet I find myself doing it almost daily. With any refinishing project, stripping is the single most important part of the job. It has to be done right, or your job will likely turn out very poorly. 


Because stripping is not the "fun part" of most refinishing projects, we need to get through it as efficiently as possible. Let me show you how I go about stripping this table...and make very fast work of it.

Below: This is our victim, a rather large Mahogany Dining Room table.


I will be "hand stripping" this table, being sure to do this job using proper precautions. Strip in a well ventilated area, using chemical resistant gloves and a good respirator. A long sleeve shirt and long pants are always a good choice, even on hot days. Also, be sure to wear protective eye wear to guard against splashing stripper or solvent in your eyes.

With a bristle brush, liberally spread the stripper over one half of the table. A good paste stripper to use is Klean Strip strip-x paste stripper. It comes in a red can and can be purchased at many home improvement stores. That is the product I will be using in this episode. Don't be stingy when applying the stripper....lay it on thick!!


Here is something you need to know about paint stripper that very few people realize (including the "experts" online or at the hardware store), and it will save you hours of frustration and a lot of money. Don't bother following the label's recommendation for how long to allow the stripper to penetrate the finish before removing!  The label is almost always wrong and suggests you wait too long!  In this case, the label on the stripper says "allow 15-30 min before scraping a small area to see if the finish is ready for removal". That is crazy!! I always test it within 5 minutes...no longer. If the finish isn't soft within 5 minutes (and it usually is) I apply a second coat of stripper and give it 5 more minutes before testing again. In many cases, stripper will dry within 10 minutes, making it extra difficult to remove. I like to keep it wet until the finish softens. In this case, 5 minutes is all it took.


Modern Finishes such as polyester are among the most difficult to strip.

 How can you tell in advance it the finish you are stripping is polyester?  First off...it will have the appearance of plastic. After all, that is pretty much what it is. My second test is the sniff test. If my eyes tell me it may be a polyester or resin finish, I get up close and smell it.  I have found that Resin finishes have a distinctive plastic like odor, and this odor never seams to go away with age. Last test, apply stripper as done it this tutorial. Resin finishes are normally unaffected by even the best "over the counter" strippers. If you find you are faced with a polyester finish that you must strip, I suggest using a product such as Hoodstrip EZ Does It to get the job done!



Below: Once the finish softens, remove it using a scraper or putty knife and scraping it off moving in the direction of the grain when possible.


Continue until all the finish is removed. You may find that there is still finish in a few areas that did not scrape off.  Just re-apply stripper to those areas and repeat the process.

Below is what you will be left with after scraping the stripper off.


Below: It's now time to clean the table. We will do this using lacquer thinner and either a coarse Scotch Brite pad or ooo steel wool. Pour the lacquer thinner into a container and dip the scrubbing pad into the thinner. Scrub the table moving the pad in circular motions. Lacquer thinner evaporates and dries quickly, so you should work in sections about the size of  1/4 of the table top. After scrubbing, clean the surface with a rag moistened with lacquer thinner. Follow that up by wiping down the surface with a clean dry rag.


Below: After cleaning the first half of the table,  it should look like this.



Enjoy this Video, where Rod takes you through the steps of stripping the second half of this Dining Room Table.

Seeing is believing!



Happy Finishing ! 




Your Hosts,

Rod & Jen Keyser

Owners of The Restoration Studio LLC


“Our goal at The Furniture Refinishing Studio Learning Center is to help empower you to step beyond the realm of ordinary, and assist you so that your furniture restoration projects become extraordinary. We are passionate about furniture,and we understand the importance it plays in everyday life.”

Rod & Jen Keyser The Restoration Studio LLC