Any tips for removing finish on hardwood flooring?

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Forum topic by Kimchi4u posted 12-16-2012 06:38 PM 5181 views 0 times favorited 24 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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18 posts in 2879 days

12-16-2012 06:38 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I recently acquired some free boxes of hard wood flooring from a supplier that the construction company I work for deals with. The boxes are odds and ends of product that is discontinued. I figured that I can use some of the hard wood to make some picture frames and a few other small projects. So far, I’ve got plenty of white oak pieces of various lengths and 20 or so full 10 foot lengths of jatoba. There is also a box or two of ash waiting for me to pick up.

The issue that I’m having with turning the flooring into wood I can use is removing the finish from the surface. The finish contains aluminum oxide (I believe) for durability and it is super difficult to remove. I’ve tried sanding it out with a random orbital sander with 60 grit sandpaper, but the finish gums up the sanding disks, making them worthless after a short board or two. Running them through the table saw has also produced less than stellar results. Same problem. The finish gums up the saw blade.

I’m looking for some tips that might help in removing the finish from these boards. The few boards that I did get “clean” have really nice grain running through them and it would be a shame if I had to remove a lot of material from the boards just to get rid of the finish (and hard wood flooring isn’t that thick to begin with). I don’t have access to a planer or a jointer, and to be honest, I think I would wind up ruining the blades on that equipment too.

Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

-- Project Coordinator at Nord Alta Construction

24 replies so far

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3573 days

#1 posted 12-17-2012 02:53 AM

The only quick and practical way I have found is a drum sander with 50 grit paper. This works great, is quick, and easy IF you have or have access to a drum sander. If not, buy one! I have 2 and they get used on every project. Pricey but CL sometimes has some worth the $.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View a1Jim's profile


118142 posts in 4460 days

#2 posted 12-17-2012 03:19 AM

Jointer or planner but I think gfadvm’s idea is best.


View Ted's profile


2877 posts in 3094 days

#3 posted 12-17-2012 03:27 AM

Try using a pull-type paint scraper.

A sharp blade will take the finish off. When the blade goes dull, a few swipes with a mill file and you’re back in business.

-- You can collect dust or you can make dust. I choose to make it.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3573 days

#4 posted 12-17-2012 04:15 AM

a1Jim- I tried my planer. Killed the blades almost instantly! That aluminum oxide finish is tough! Ted- My paint scraper just slid across the top of that finish and didn’t even mark it!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Earlextech's profile


1162 posts in 3573 days

#5 posted 12-17-2012 03:35 PM

Free is so rarely free.

I would use a chemical stripper.

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "Finished"!

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 3567 days

#6 posted 12-17-2012 04:01 PM

gfad…I tried the planer also…not a good idea. so I use mine for shelfing, bench/counter-tops or where the finished side will be upside down (I can plane the raw back side if it looks ok which is about 1/2 of the boards).

it occurs to me though…check the manufacturer’s web-site to see what chemicals will void the warranty (might be a clue as to what can cut it).

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2172 posts in 3733 days

#7 posted 12-17-2012 04:06 PM

I gave up, something I’m not accustomed to doing. Same experience. The wood was acacia, I was curious, the price was free.

Sanding no (even 80x), scrapers of any kind skated faster than Nancy Kerrigan before Tanya, table saw impractical.

I did not try chemical strippers, thinking that the thickness of the finish would require multiple coats, meaning multiple minutes and multiple cans of the chemically antagonistic stuff. I can’t imagine an acceptable ROI with that technique, but I could easily be wrong.



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View J's profile


48 posts in 3029 days

#8 posted 12-17-2012 04:15 PM

I have done this before. Pre-finished flooring will overheat and dull planer blades after a couple of boards, an expensive lesson. The drum sander is the most cost effective option, even a belt sander with heavy grit is cheaper and faster than buying blades and changing them. Start around 24 to 30 grit, it takes something that looks like rake finished concrete to get through Al O2 coatings.

Chemical strippers also proved to be cost prohibitive, more labor than sanding and generically inneffective.

Some of the cabinet shops in my area will run boards for customers through their drum sanders.

View Kimchi4u's profile


18 posts in 2879 days

#9 posted 12-17-2012 06:16 PM

Thanks for the tips everyone. I think I’ll give the belt sander a try before committing to buying any new tools. The reason I even took the hardwood is money is limited and time is plentiful.

-- Project Coordinator at Nord Alta Construction

View chrisstef's profile


18112 posts in 3889 days

#10 posted 12-17-2012 06:27 PM

Heres what your gonna need to do:

lay all the board flat on the garage floor and lay a cleat over the back of them.
Secure that cleat to all your boards.
Install an eye hook onto said cleat.
Attach rope to said eye hook.
Attach rope to bumper.
3 laps around the neighborhood oughta do it.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View crashn's profile


528 posts in 3348 days

#11 posted 12-17-2012 06:28 PM

resaw the finished face off at the bandsaw

-- Crashn - the only thing I make more of than sawdust is mistakes

View 489tad's profile


3901 posts in 3894 days

#12 posted 12-17-2012 06:42 PM

I agree with crashn and resaw, I also agree with teejk and using the back side. I would like to see the three laps around the neighborhood.

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 3567 days

#13 posted 12-17-2012 07:37 PM

I have gravel roads here…that dragging thing might work but then again gas is still above $3.20/gal.

I thought about resaw also but then thought about the effort on what I think are 2 3/4” wide pieces…my stuff is cheap red oak (I had an idea that didn’t pan out so I have about 150 sq feet of the stuff).

I figure it is pre-finished (and the point of this topic is how hard the finish is)...I’m always looking for shelving/benchtop material. The stuff is usually pretty straight and the T&G helps keep it that way.

View DIYaholic's profile


19921 posts in 3558 days

#14 posted 12-17-2012 10:41 PM

I have some unused, finished flooring and I did a resaw test on my BS.

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 3370 days

#15 posted 12-17-2012 11:28 PM

I was given about 100 bd’ of Cypress flooring with the AluOx coating.
I tried sanding, planing, sawing, scraping, etc. I finally settled on a router sled and a whole bunch of cheap router bits.

It worked like a charm, I went through 4 bits but they are still good for jointing from the side, just not the bottom.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

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