How to Strip Varnish off Furniture in 4 Simple Steps

Removing varnish off of old (or even new) furniture can be a pain, and sometimes even impossible when all that you are using are harsh thinners, strippers and chemicals. So why not do it the easy way: use a heat gun. Here’s how to strip varnish off furniture in 4 easy steps.

Tools required:

  • Heat gun
  • Painter’s multi-tool (or a putty knife)

Step 1. You’ll want to secure the area from varnish fallout. Place small pieces of furniture on newspaper. Move larger items outside if possible. The less clean up when you are finished the better.

Step 2. Beginning on one side of the piece of wood, steady the heat gun about 3-5 inches above the surface and hold for about 10 seconds, or until you see the varnish start to bubble.

Step 3. Using your other hand, begin to lay the flat surface of your tool onto the wood and push like you are shoveling snow (flat and smooth). Continue in one swath, pushing with your tool and heating simultaneously. After a few minutes of practice, you’ll find that not only is it quite simple, it is actually fun.

Note: Do not, however, poke or use the sharp side of your tool on the surface. If the varnish isn’t budging, it needs more heat not brute force. If you are too gung-ho, you will damage the wood and essentially defeat the entire purpose of saving the furniture.

Step 4. Once you are done, you’ll want to sand the finished product (light grain) to remove any small and virtually unseen remnants. The sanding will also prepare the wood for any future stain/varnish/paint you intend to add.

In the end, it is important to remember that every type of wood is different, and they all take to varnish in their own unique ways. Your success will depend on the quality of the product you are working on, and your skill at completing the job.

For more information on how we can help you, please contact us any time, and good luck!

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