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Old 01-12-2004, 12:31 PM   #1
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Question wood stripper recommendations

I have been stripping and refinishing the plywood in my 68 Overlander for a while now. Done properly, the wood looks fabulous, and many people are astonished to see how nice a "trailer" can be.

Unfortunately, I have come into a problem. I had been using a bottle of stripper that I bought about 10 years ago. It was supposed to be some kind of "eco-friendly" stuff. It wasn't as agressive as Methylene Chloride, but it was MUCH less volatile.

Now I've run out and I can't find it anymore. I have tried all of the non-caustic stuff at the big-box home stores. Unfortunately, it evaporates VERY quickly, and doesn't do as good a job. I'm really not satisfied with the results I am getting with any of the new stuff. Ironically, it's more expensive, doesn't last as long AND is a known carcinogen. Go figure. I'm afraid to try any of the caustic stuff for fear of damaging the wood.

Does anyone know what the old stuf might be, or have an alternative recommendation? Sadly, I had the chemical name at one time, but lost it.

It was totally water-soluble, semi-clear (a little bit milky) and had a pungent odor, but it did not smell like orange-oil. It was not caustic.

Any help is greatly appreciated. I'm pretty much stuck until I find a suitable stripper.

Thanks,

Jon in SC
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Old 01-12-2004, 02:48 PM   #2
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stripper

I've used 3M 'Safest Stripper', contains dimethyl adipate abd dimethyl glutarate.
Gotta admit it doesn't work as well as the old stuff, but it's safe and doesn't have an odor.
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Old 01-12-2004, 04:17 PM   #3
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That looks and sounds familiar. Do you know where to get it? Thanks a lot!
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Old 01-12-2004, 05:28 PM   #4
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Wood stripper

I got it at the local TruValu hardware store. It doesn't blister like methyl chloride, but you can leave it on all night if you cover it with saran wrap.
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Old 01-12-2004, 06:09 PM   #5
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Does anyone know what the finish is on cabinets as described above? If lacquer, for example, it could be stripped with lacquer thinner. Terrifically volatile, and one needs plenty of ventilation, but not particularly harmful as that sort of thing goes.

But, let me mention a method I use, although it is not entirely to the point. When stripping the finish off an older piece I use a mixture of 1 part methylene chloride stripper to three or four parts acetone. Using lots of ventilation and rubber gloves, I work the finish off using steel wool. This leaves the wood with much of the patina and color, rather than bleached out, dry, and lifeless.

Super runny, difficult to use on vertical surfaces, super flamable, and very quick to evaporate, so one can only do a small area at a time. But fairly quick working, and I really like the results.

Mark
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Old 01-12-2004, 06:58 PM   #6
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Most of the cabinetry of that era will be finished in lacquer. My '67 owners manual even varifies that. If the finish is not totally gone or really patchy, many times a product called 'Restore-a-Finish' works well to 'reamalgamate' the existing lacquer.Basically it's a mixture of solvents like lac.thinner and zylene that dissolve the finish enough so you can move it around and even it out without losing the patina.
It's available at most good hardware stores and comes in different tones for different woods. I've used it on some of my wood and it works very easily and the results are good.
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Old 01-12-2004, 08:03 PM   #7
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Re: wood stripper recommendations

Originally posted by fitzjo1
Quote:
I had been using a bottle of stripper that I bought about 10 years ago. It was supposed to be some kind of "eco-friendly" stuff. It wasn't as agressive as Methylene Chloride, but it was MUCH less volatile.
Back To Nature "Multi-Strip" may be the answer.

Read my diatribes in the following threads:

clearcoat -plasticoat stripper

Woodgrain Decal Help?

Sorry, haven't yet learned how to post a link on the Forum. You can find them by doing a search on the subject.

Hope this helps you with your problem. Maybe someone can help me with mine.

Practice Safe Stripping!

Regards,
Jeff
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Old 01-21-2004, 06:30 PM   #8
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I picked up the sole bottle of the 3M Safest Stripper at Lowe's. It is slower acting than the old stuff, though not too volatile. Unfortunately, it leaves a substantial amount of residue (as determined on a piece of clean metal). I think it would be handy for anything that tolerates being washed down with water. It softened up the old numbers on the AS. But, I don't think it will suit me for hardwood veneer. Oh well.

It looks as though the other brand (Back to Nature) is very similar to the 3M, in that it uses the same "solvents". Does anyone know if it evaporates more completely and/or contains the aluminum trihydrate? I can't get it locally and hate to mail order it if it's the same thing.

I will experiment next with the suggestions above. Maybe a complete stripping is overkill. But, the old finish is really cloudy. So, I think most of it will have to come off. The steel wool is a great idea, though. It should be a lot safer than sand paper, which is definitely a bad idea, in my experience.

I will definitely post back results for reference sake. I think that's a great feature of the thread format. If anyone else knows of any other materials that work well, please post. Thanks a lot to everyone who has posted already.

Jon in SC
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Old 01-21-2004, 08:58 PM   #9
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Back To Nature Multi-Strip

Originally posted by fitzjo1

Quote:
It looks as though the other brand (Back to Nature) is very similar to the 3M, in that it uses the same "solvents". Does anyone know if it evaporates more completely and/or contains the aluminum trihydrate? I can't get it locally and hate to mail order it if it's the same thing.
My Back To Nature Multi-Strip container's ingredients are:

1) Dimethyl Glutarate
2) Dimethyl Adipate
3) Dimethyl Succinate
4) N Methyl-2 Pyrrolidone
5) Proprietary Filler

Items 1 thru 3 sound like they are plant based (may be soybean, guar gum or sugars). Item 4 is the active ingredient according to the resident expert. No idea what item 5 may be.

I'm no chemist, but have done some research and been a haz-waste employer/worker for 30+ years with a working knowledge and great deal of respect for the BAD stuff. I used a lot of this on the exterior aluminum as a paint & decal stripper with good results, without killing any brain or liver cells. BUT, have not used it on wood!

It goes on with a brush as a thick paste. It usually remains "wet" and active for 4 - 8 hours, but not overnight. You can keep the moisture in and working longer by covering it with wax paper. Activity slows down below 60F. Cleans up with water and paper towels.

You should be able to find it at your local paint & wallpaper store. I bought it in 1 quart & 1 gallon sizes, but there was a customer who came in once a month for a 5 gallon pail to strip multiple layers of paint off his old house.

Check out the Back To Nature web site and/or give them a call or stop by in New Jersey. They were very responsive to my requests for info & a MSDS.

If you have not already done so, suggest you read the posts mentioned in my previous reply above. Kinda long, but lots of good info there.

Jon's Significant Other says: "Come to bed dear, I have to get up early tomorrow for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit photo shoot"

Jon replys: "Not tonight dear, I have to check out strippers on the Airstream Forum"

Practice "Safe Stripping"!

Regards,
Jeff
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Old 01-22-2004, 08:50 AM   #10
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steel wool

A caveat regarding steel wool:
If you are going to use a water based polyurethane for the new finish, be sure to get every tiny hair of steel wool off the wood. Otherwise it will rust under the poly. Good luck with your project!
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Old 01-22-2004, 08:59 AM   #11
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Better yet, use bronze wool. No problems with rust under your waterbased finish.

You could use a 3M pad too, but I'm partial to the steel/bronze wools.


Tripp
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Old 01-22-2004, 09:53 AM   #12
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Can the bad stuff be used on an interior without killing brain cells - I know open windows/fan/resporator - but does that really protect you? Still seems like an enclosed area

Ken
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Old 01-22-2004, 10:01 AM   #13
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Ken,

If you use a quality respirator with NIOSH certification against chemical vapors you should be covered. Where it really gets you is when (not if) you wipe the sweat off of your brow before taking your gloves off, cleaning up, etc!! I know this from experience! Its one of those force of habit things.

Eye protection is extremely important too. The vapors can irritate the eyes badly.

Regarding the fans, they help tremendously, but at the same time you are drying out your stripper prematurely. Double edged sword I guess. I would rather reapply stripper than not use a fan though.


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Old 01-22-2004, 10:16 AM   #14
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Tripp

Thanks - what kind of eye protection should you use - most goggles have vents - seems like they would not help with vapors.

Ken J
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