How do I remove whitening finish from oak furniture?


I have a solid oak bedroom set from the 50's. Beautiful clean lines, in great shape, but covered in that weird varnish? paint? coating of some kind that makes the wood very, very pale and the grain lines white. I believe it was very common at the time. I would like to strip it down to bare wood and give it a more natural look. Any ideas? Thanks!

  7 answers
  • Susan Susan on Aug 06, 2019

    Bedroom set is very similar to the one shown in this photo.

  • Jewellmartin Jewellmartin on Aug 06, 2019

    I remember them well. I definitely could be wrong, but I think that was a type of shellac. It was thick and could be scraped with a fingernail. I would really recommend the big 3 S method. Sand, Stain, Seal. Use a combination of sanders if you need to in order to clean the pieces with shellac cleaner, electric sanders, a sanding glove, and lots of rags. Best wishes, Jewell

  • Susan Susan on Aug 06, 2019

    Thank you Jewell!

  • Lindsay Aratari Lindsay Aratari on Aug 06, 2019

    You could try using Citris Strip that is sold at hardware stores and then sanding it down too

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Aug 06, 2019

    Hi Susan,

    You will need to sand it all down. Don't forget to use a mask when you do it!

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Aug 06, 2019

    Citristrip is mild and works fairly well, just make sure you don't let it dry, then it's very hard to remove. I would recommend working in small areas at a time like maybe the side of the dresser at first.

  • Susan Susan on Aug 13, 2019

    Thank you all for your replies. I'm not sure sanding is a good option as it has rather deep grain "grooves". So I'll try a stripper first and see where that gets me.