refinisher v. stripper

Old 08-08-01, 08:06 AM
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a

I have an old ice box to clean up. what is the difference between furniture refinisher and stripper? Which do you recommend? The finish is quite rough and bumpy. Thanks!
Old 08-08-01, 06:50 PM
George's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: South Hill, Va. USA
Posts: 2,817
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts

I assume you're talking about the products - 'refinisher' vs 'stripper'. That being the case, here's the difference.

A stripper is designed to remove the finish, be it lacquer, polyurethane, paint, etc., and leave you (after varying degrees of labor) with a clean surface to do with as you please.

A refinisher (sometimes referred to as an amalgamator) is designed to return the finish (briefly) to a liquid form in order to remove minor cuts and scratches. The refinisher allows the old finish to 're-flow' and smooth itself out. To the best of my knowledge, refinishers work only on shellac or lacquer finishes. The do not work on polyurethane, varnish, or paint of any kind. And there's a reason.

Shellac and lacquer 'cure' through the process of evaporation. As the solvent evaporates, the solids portion of the finish is left as a film on the piece to be covered. The process is purely physical - not chemical. Shellac and Lacquer can both be removed using steel wool and the appropriate solvent; lacquer thinner in the case of lacquer, or denatured alcohol in the case of shellac.

Varnish, polyurethane and paint, on the other hand, 'cure' through a dual action of evaporation and chemical change whereby the finish can not be restored to a usable liquid state. They can be dissolved with a 'stripper', but the stripper and finish co-mingle, and can not be re-used.

Hope I haven't confused you with this. If I haven't addressed your question correctly, drop back in again.

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Your question will be posted in: