Tips on Stripping Conversion Varnish

Advice on choosing a chemical stripper, applying it, and scraping off the finish. August 21, 2012

Does someone have a suggestion on what the best method and product for stripping conversion varnish is? I really could use some help on this one.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor R:
Scuff sand the CV first and then lay out your chemical stripper. You might use 120 or 100.

From contributor M:
You want a thin body MC stripper. Lots of companies make one. We use Bestway M-36. Brush on, let set for a few minutes, and remove with a freshly burnished cabinet scraper. If the CV is fresh, this should only take one pass. If it has cross-linked, it may take two tries. CVs come off easy and clean. If you have a base stain that is in the details, then use medium Scotchbrite and some water. Once stripped, bust sand with 120, oxalic acid, rinse, then 150 and you are back close to raw wood. No putty knives. Let the cabinet scraper do all the work.

From contributor C:
Your best bet is to get Stripper 345 from Kwick Kleen. It has an acid base with methylene chloride. This stuff will take off anything, but you have to have great ventilation, respirators, eye protection and heavy rubber gloves. It will burn the skin, eyes, and nose if you get it on you.

From contributor O:
If you are working on flat surfaces, a card scraper or scraping plane and elbow grease will do the job fairly efficiently.

From contributor R:
I don't see anything wrong with using a broad knife or even a putty knife. A good stout one like Hyde works fine. Just round over both of the edges a little and make sure the blade is nick free. On a seasoned CV coating, roughing it up with some sandpaper (120-100) first speeds up the lifting properties of the stripper.

Many make the mistake of coaxing off the remover too soon. Let it sit and allow it to do its job. Don't brush the remover in a back and forth motion once you have laid it out. Do make sure you cover all the surface with the remover. There should be no dry spots.

The waxes in the remover migrate to the surface, thereby preventing it from evaporating, so the less you disturb it, the more effective it will be. I'm not a fan of the water based strippers and prefer to wash the raw wood with acetone or lacquer thinner.