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Table that has been stripped of stain and refinished.

How To Strip Furniture With Less Work

All the tips and short cuts on how to strip furniture with this step-by-step tutorial.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 3 hours
Servings 1 piece of furniture
Author Rachel
Cost $50


  • Quality Paint Stripper
  • Safety Gear: Gloves, face mask, protective eyewear
  • Plastic Drop Cloths
  • Paper Towels
  • #000 Steel Wool
  • Mineral Spirits
  • Saran or Plastic Wrap cut garbage bags also work well
  • Paint Scraper or Putty knife plastic or metal (use gently to not gouge)
  • Sand Paper 120 and 220 grit
  • Empty Metal Cans for dipping your brush


  • Put on proper safety gear. Refinish furniture outdoors or in a garage if possible for better ventilation.
    Supplies for stripping a table including safety equiptment.
  • Brush furniture generously with paint stripper. For best results, strip furniture when temperature is above 50.
  • Remove the varnish using a paint scraper on flat surfaces. Steel wool can be used for crevices and any hard to reach areas. You may need a second coat for hard varnishes. Once most of the varnish has been removed, apply mineral spirits to a paper towel or lint free cloth and wipe away any excess residue.
  • Sand the surface until you've reached your desired finish. An orbital sander makes quick work of flat surfaces, but delicate surfaces may need to be hand sanded.
  • Wipe with a lightly damp cloth and vacuum to remove dust. Wait 24 hours before adding any finishes.
    Table top with raw wood finish to show the natural grain.


To tackle the crevices in the table legs and on the sides, cover them in plastic wrap for about 4-6 hours. 
For detailed areas, use a toothbrush or steel wool wrapped bamboo skewer. To get into tight crevices, I use all kinds of tools from toothpicks, bamboo skewers, nails. Use a light hand, so not to gouge the wood.