How To Remove Lacquer Finishes

June 25, 2010

Lacquer finishes look great on wood. They provide a hard, durable finish that can have any sheen from ultra matte to high gloss. Lacquer is much more durable than its predecessor in the furniture industry, shellac. While shellac can dissolve easily with alcohol, lacquer is meant to be a very durable finish in order to protect the wood beneath it. Because of that, it can be difficult to remove. Fortunately, it is not as hard as it looks. With a little bit of patience and hard work it you can remove a lacquer finish from your wood product and prepare it for refinishing in no time.

Materials Needed:

  • Denatured alcohol
  • Lacquer thinner
  • Rags
  • Latex gloves
  • Flat edged scraper
  • Paint brush
  • Steel wool
  • Sandpaper
  • Stain
  • Polyurethane

Step 1: Prepare the Mixture

In a bucket, mix equal parts denatured alcohol and lacquer thinner. Be sure to do this in a well-ventilated area, as the fumes can be dangerous. The last thing you want to do is pass out from the fumes. With all the work that will be needed to sand and scrape the lacquer away, there will be plenty of time for passing out later.

Step 2: Spread the Mixture on the Wood

Use a clean paint brush and spread the mixture on a small surface of the wood. Allow the mixture to sit for one minute.

Step 3: Start Scraping

Use the scraper and steel wool to begin removing the lacquer. This process will take time and effort, so be sure to give yourself plenty of breaks. As you scrape, the majority of the lacquer will come away. Work section by section until

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