Using a wood-stain remover to refinish furniture is a very simple process and can make the ugliest piece of wood furniture look new. With the use of a wood-stain remover, you can remove an unwanted layer of stain, and also remove mould, mildew, oils and small nicks and scratches on the surface of the wood--leaving it ready for refinishing. Always use caution when working with stain removers as they are highly toxic.
Before beginning the process, select the products you will use. There are several types of finish removers that are biodegradable which, while still toxic, are not quite as bad for the environment. Whenever possible, select the biodegradable removers over the more toxic varieties. The stain remover--or stripper--is used to remove old stains and restore the wood to its original state. If the stain has been recently applied, you will not be able to remove all of it because new stains leach into the wood. Allowing the wood to age for a year gives it time to contract and push the stain to the surface. Apply the remover and wait around 10 minutes for the stripper to dissolve the old finish. Once the mixture begins to wrinkle, use a scraper to remove all of the old finish from flat areas and a steel wool pad to remove the gunk from the smaller crevasses.
Select a stain and a sealer for refinishing the wood. Buy enough to cover the whole piece of furniture. Usually the container labels will specify how much coverage they offer. Select from a vinyl or aniline stain for a faster-drying project, but be aware that these will give you less time to create the effect that you want. The alternative is to use an oil-based stain. Oil stains are very slow to dry but allow the user more time to obtain the desired effect. Use sandpaper to remove any nicks or scratches to the wood and to take out any stubborn stains. Use a very fine grade of sandpaper. In most cases, after stripping the furniture, you will want to re-stain the piece because sanding leaves the wood with an uneven, blotchy appearance. Use a sealer to finish the project.
Use the proper safety equipment when applying the stripper. Rubber gloves, protective eye wear and a respirator should be used when working with stain removers and new stains. Always work in a well-ventilated area. Do not throw any remaining removers or stains into the trash. Dispose of the waste at a location designed for toxic-waste disposal. Your county can provide a list of toxic-disposal facilities in your area.