Advise for Stripping Finish +

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Forum topic by 69BBNova posted 05-12-2013 12:49 AM 1041 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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341 posts in 2487 days

05-12-2013 12:49 AM

Today is only the second time in 30 yrs I’ve been to a garage sale, both neighbor hood deals, but this is the first time I came home with something…

I had wanted to buy a pair of chairs and a table for my friends daughter for a year or so (hadnt really fooled around with woodworking at all)...

So the first one I stopped at I noticed these were a bit smaller and looked perfect for her, I left then went right back…

They are a pair of Ethan Allen made in Vermont Baumritter chairs, maple with a nutmeg finish. Because of the markings they were made between 1950-to late 60’s…

I only knew the Ethan Allen name so I knew they weren’t junk…

GRAND TOTAL for both…$4…did I do well? lol

anyhow I’m not sure to totally strip them or just touch up the finish, there is in fact very little that needs to be done…

please not to hard if that’s actually possable. thanks

5 replies so far

View Finisherman's profile


227 posts in 2120 days

#1 posted 05-12-2013 04:26 AM

There are a couple of important issues that we can discuss here. First of all, congratulations on your garage sale find. Those chairs look really nice. Stripping any finish is generally a last resort. It’s a messy job which often involves toxic, unpleasant chemicals. If, as you say, the chairs are generally in good shape, I wouldn’t bother with stripping them. You can probably touch up the finish and they’ll look just as beautiful as they did on the day they were made. As for what’s involved in touching up the finish, that depends a great deal on the degree of damage. If you let me know, I might be able to suggest a remedy. Of course, you can always PM Charles Neil.

If the chairs did need to be stripped and refinished, I’d take care to preserve any indentifying marks or decals that may be present. These chairs aren’t antiques yet, but they will be someday. When that day comes, the fact that both the original finish and the indentifying marks or decals are still intact may serve to greatly increase their market value. Your great-great-grandchildren will thank you.


View Bluepine38's profile


3380 posts in 3356 days

#2 posted 05-12-2013 02:42 PM

Stripping those chairs would involve way too much work, the moving companies used to use an almond stick
to touch those little dings that would cause problems if noticed, and they worked great. I just googled them
and they are still available. l would definitely try something like that first.

-- As ever, Gus-the 80 yr young apprentice carpenter

View JAAune's profile


1864 posts in 2587 days

#3 posted 05-12-2013 07:59 PM

If the existing finish is still sound and not flaking or peeling then there’s no reason for stripping it off. Typically a mild cleaning with something like a Murphy’s Oil Soap solution followed by a touch up pen on the scratches and a coat of paste wax is plenty good.

If the finish is intact but really grimy it’s possible to renew the surface by lightly buffing it with a solvent of some type. This however, is risky unless you’ve got experience doing it. I’ve restored many old chairs by buffing them with Scotchbrite and alcohol or lacquer thinner followed by a new coat of lacquer.

If the original finish is flaking off though, I’d recommend stripping them and starting fresh. A bad finish won’t protect the wood from damage caused by rapid swings in humidity.

-- See my work at and

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3918 days

#4 posted 05-12-2013 08:38 PM

I wouldn’t strip them – it’s really not fun and it’s a lot of

You could sand and paint over them with milk paint – which
is the traditional way windsor chairs were finished.

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3556 days

#5 posted 05-12-2013 09:25 PM

Unless you are trying to match other Maple chairs or table, I like Loren’s idea of milk paint as a traditional finish.

-- John @

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