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How to Strip Wood

Peel back time by stripping your wood of unwanted paint or getting rid of old stain.


  • Step 1: Lay down a tarp Protect your floor by spreading a tarp under the piece you will be stripping, unless you are stripping the floor itself. Protect yourself by putting on protective eyewear, clothes that cover all of your skin, and gloves. Make sure you are working either outside or in an area with a lot of ventilation.
  • Step 2: Remove hardware Remove any hardware from the piece before beginning the process.
  • Step 3: Apply wood stripper Fill a metal container, such as an old coffee can, with stripper and, with an old, natural-bristle paintbrush, brush stripper onto a small area of the piece. Wait several minutes for the paint to blister.
  • TIP: Get some fresh air while you wait for the stripper to work on the paint.
  • Step 4: Scrape old finish Scrape away the blistering paint or varnish with a putty knife, removing reside from the knife by wiping it with old newspaper.
  • Step 5: Apply steel wool Mix one part lacquer thinner and one part shellac thinner in a container. Then dip a piece of steel wool into the mixture and use the steel wool to remove excess paint from the wood. Wipe off excess goop with an old rag or paper towels.
  • Step 6: Finish the piece Continue working in small sections until the entire piece is finished and all traces of the previous coat are gone. Allow the piece to dry overnight and then refinish it to your liking. Move your excess chemicals outside to evaporate.
  • FACT: In 2010, Iceland passed a law prohibiting strip clubs from operating in the country.

You Will Need

  • Tarp
  • Protective eyewear
  • Protective clothing
  • Gloves
  • Well-ventilated area
  • Metal container
  • Stripper
  • Paintbrush
  • Putty knife
  • Newspaper
  • Lacquer thinner
  • Shellac thinner
  • Steel wool
  • Old rags or paper towels

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