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Have a client with a barn wood type kitchen table. Lot of scratches so she would like it refinished. Not only does this have the usual mill marks and use marks, but there may even be some minor cupping. All of which concerns me that I'm either going to be left with a lot of spots with finish and/or stain or I'd have to sand down and remove too much of the character. Interested how others have handled this.
Have it chemically stripped and hand sand it to complete the process. I'm a cabinetmaker primarily, but have taken on refinishing jobs a handful of times over the years. I've regretted it every time. Everything from fisheye to not being able to charge enough to make it worthwhile.
I've done a fair amount of refinishing jobs. I never sand to remove a finish. Never. I use KleanStrip Premium stripper in most cases to take off the finish and stain. If there is still stain in the pores I use another KleanStrip stripper, can't remember the name, that is thinner and better able to get into the pores. When all the finish is off I neutralize it with mineral spirits and when that dries I decide whether it needs any sanding, but I try to avoid it because once you start you pretty much have to sand it all to get a consistent look. I leave the dings and dents unless they can be steamed out. It's a used table, chair, etc.. Life happens, so I leave the dings unless it's specified to remove them. If the piece is veneered the dings get left no matter what.
Stripper also removes silicone, wax, and pretty mush everything. Just wipe the piece a few times after it's stripped with clean cloths and mineral spirits to remove any last contaminates. Then it's ready for dye, stain, etc. I usually shoot a coat of Sealcoat shellac over the dye, stain, etc. to lock in any residual silicone that might still be there to avoid fisheye problems with the topcoats.