The use of acids to strip antique cupboards, tables and chairs can be quite destructive to the piece of furniture generally. Quite often doors from Victorian houses come back from the strippers with gaps and holes in the panelling and frame where the acid has eaten into plugs originally put in by the joiner to disguise knots in the wood.
Often, instead of stripping the piece with acid or acid based products, unsightly build up of wax and dirt can be removed by using a wax based product instead. This will require some elbow grease on your part to remove the build up to bring it back to dry wood. The beeswax can then be applied in the same way and then reapplied annually to retain or rebuild the patina.
Painted furniture does require more strenuous stripping however. Care should be taken in the types of product chosen and there are famous brands available which do the job effectively. These brands often present a selection of products from paint and varnish removers to more specialist varnish and lacquer removers. Some of these products are more toxic than others, so it is always wise to strip furniture outside if possible, or in a well ventilated shed or garage. Also beware of the gluey residues from some of these products which can burn and irritate the skin. It is therefore safer if gloves are worn. Some of these products are water washable but don’t forget that water itself can also damage antique furniture.
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