So I was working on a set of six chairs from a 1930's dining room table when the customer called and requested to view these before a stain was picked. It's common for this to happen and to me, it's just a feather in my cap to let the customer see how clean and sturdy their chairs have become. What I didn't know was that my sixth chair was only half finished and the customer would be here at noon. I tell one of my staff, Ryan, to stop what you're doing and jump in the truck and go to the local hardware store and pick me up a stripper. Ryan looks at me a little cross eyed but doesn't question as he was well aware he was to come in Saturday to finish the stripping. An hour later, no Ryan. I can see the hardware store from the shop so what's taking so long? Ten minutes later I get a call from the store manager and he tells me that Ryan is outside the store asking customers if they know where he could get a good stripper. One of the girls he asked was a local painter that I know well. She stopped at the shop to have a bit of a laugh. Playing around with the new guy eh Marco! The local painter was wearing clothes full of paint and to Ryan it made sense to ask her and she probably looked familiar to him as I had completed some painted furniture for her not long ago and she had frequented the shop. I asked, so what did you tell him? Well I told him that I used to strip often but it just didn't make sense anymore since you guys have opened and that his boss was very familiar with all the local strippers. He was afraid to call you so he then went in the store and I observed and listened to him ask another girl if she knew where he could find a good stripper cheap and this was his first time doing this. This girl yelled for the manager, then I watched the manager call and ask for you.
Now, that I have your attention!! You can buy furniture strippers from your local hardware stores but don't waste your money trying to figure out which one. In my opinion the Circa 1850 is the strongest and most effective over the counter furniture stripper. The formula allows the removal of old finishes like paint, urethane's and lacquer. It comes in two forms, one being a liquid and the other a paste. One will work on horizontal surfaces the other on vertical surfaces. I believe the paste is a heavy body remover, able to remove several coats of paint. You can buy it in a small can just under a litre or a 3.78 litre can. The small can is around $15 dollars and the larger can is $32 to $45 dollars. Do the math and this can be important because a small can is not enough to do a chair. If you end up buying the small can to save money you're actually going to spend more. So unless you're doing a small item you would be wise to buy the larger can. Make no mistake, all strippers are very dangerous to your health and usually full of carcinogens. Have lots of ventilation and if possible do your stripping outside, but still wear a good mask. The fumes will rise from your work directly into the air you are breathing. Wear rubber gloves, and protective eye wear and a long sleeve shirt. Stripper will burn the moment it hits your skin and can only be neutralized by water, so have some water ready and available. If you're doing this inside, set up some fans so you're bringing fresh air in and blowing the old air out. Strippers dry by evaporation if you don't have fresh air you will certainly be breathing in some very toxic chemicals. Don't let this scare you though and to make it easy just work outside but take the same precautions you would if you were in a closed room and be sure to wear a mask. You can try the other strippers but you will waste money as many of them do not work and they can be very expensive. You can also try the non-toxic, non-chemical type environmentally safe strippers but trust me it's a waste of time and money.
My biggest suggestion though is not to go outside your local hardware store and ask the local ladies if they know of a good stripper. Circa 1850 has been around since I was a young kid and has stood the test of time. This would be my no nonsense recommendation and a proven product. If you require any further information just drop me a line and I would be happy to help you out!