Strip Wax


From original questioner:

Need to strip wax off a counter top.

Just came back from the job site, where the contractor reported a ring on a countertop I installed two weeks ago. Upon inspection, a paste wax was clearly applied to it. Of course, "no one" did that. I think it was the cleaning lady, who in good faith was trying to clean up after the pigs who followed me (food wrappers all over, plumbing parts dumped on it, etc), but I can't prove that. And I don't really want to - she looked scared to death. Rather than go nuts in a circular he said she said, or beat someone into confessing, I'm just going to fix it.

Finish: Chemcraft Chemlife 24, 35 sheen, over Sapele veneer. Plywood substrate. I did not forget to catalyze - the finish was hard for two days before I installed.

I know I can buff it with cold water, and literally rub the wax off, but that will make the finish glossy. The customer would actually like that, but it wouldnt match some other woodwork Ive done in the kitchen. My issue.

So I'm looking for a stripper. Goo gone won't cut it, and either will denatured. I for obvious reasons didn't try anything stronger. Cold water and a cotton rag gets it over time, but again that's rubbing it off.

Anyone got any ideas?

I'm going to buff it off tomorrow if I don't figure anything out. Again, the customer will be fine with it - its just me and my OCD that won't. I realize Im the only woodworker on the planet so afflicted :)

Anyway, any help beyond "tell the contractor it his problem" would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance.


From contributor ro

I think Paint thinner or Naptha would do the trick. Its not necessary to buff it either as it will increase the sheen for sure. Just keep a wet surface as your gently wiping. The solvents I mentioned wont attack the CV.

From contributor ka

Thanks very much for the response, Robert.

Duh, should have thought of that, but I was caught up in the fog of the moment - but then, that's what I come here for. I will surely bring some naptha and paint thinner with me in the morning.

Thanks again.

From contributor Ji

Ditto with the VMP naptha or mineral spirits. They are solvents for the wax. When you wipe off what will be essentially a solution of wax, it may take a few iterations of rinse/wipe to get things clean. Think "progressive decontamination". Use lots of fresh rags/paper towels for the wipe-off part.

From contributor ka

Thanks Jim!

You are correct about progressive decon. (BTW, that sounds like something an old Cold Warrior might say. You aren't by any chance an ex- Readiness or Chem Warfare troop, are you?)

Anyway, thanks for your input. It took about 3 tries with Naptha to get the bulk of the muck off the finish, but there's still a bit of a film there - water still leaves marks. I think I'm about 90%, but I'm going back one more time to nail it.

The CV is intact, as you predicted, Robert.

Looking back, the denatured was just not the right approach from the get-go. But I understood the frenzied "ring", over the phone to be "white ring" - in which case denatured would have been the right product. Turns out the ring was simply wax, which rubbed out in seconds with the Naptha. Again, I was caught up in the moment and not thinking correctly. You guys rightly led me in the direction i needed to go.

Thanks all, for the help.


From contributor ro

Glad to hear all's well karl. Just a suggestion on removing the left over wax. I might be tempted to use the Paint thinner as the final rinse. The Paint thinner will stay wet longer than the Naptha will...that extra wet time might be enough to finally bite into the leftover wax and finally get rid of it.

If you didn't use Naptha but used Paint thinners throughout the cleaning process just leave the Paint thinner sit a bit longer prior to wiping.

From contributor ka

Hey just to let you know, Robert, I never could get it quite right. I went back with paint thinner, as you suggested, and got some more, but it just wasn't pristine.

So I sanded it down a bit with 320 (fingers crossed that I wasn't mashing contamination into the finish), and then put down a de-waxed shellac barrier coat. Two thin coats of Chemlife and voila - good as new.

I still think it was best that I took your suggestion and washed/rubbed it down with naptha and paint thinner. Whatever was on there was so thick that it looked like alligator skin in places. Sanding that would more than likely have caused a huge nightmare. As it is, I've got a few extra hours into it and a very happy customer. Very decent trade.

Thanks again.


From contributor Ro

At the end of the day a satisfied customer is what its all about. Good going karl.