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Furniture Stripping Makeover in Progress

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Do you remember the little side table I found on the curb in front of a neighbor’s house before Christmas?  I placed it by my bed.   It was not perfect, the top had a crack in it and the finish was old and had the look of coffee grains in places, but I still liked it – even with its imperfections. It was solid and I knew I could use my newfound furniture stripping skills and/or paint to give it a new personality.


I started the stripping process over the weekend and planned to have it completed today…

snow storm

…but a little snowstorm got in the way.  I needed to get more of the stripper I was using – CitraStrip to remove a few stubborn areas of stain. I could not get to the paint store, so the table is still a project in progress.

snow shoveling

We did not get shoveled out until the snow stopped around 4PM.  So crazy!  Since the day before it was 50 degrees and I started stripping the table outside.

How to strip furniture safely

So instead of getting a few stubborn spots of the stain removed, I had a snow day and played with how I could make the table take on its own look.  I settled on using ribbon to accent the table.  I used a glue dot under the ends in the back to hold it on.  I like the way it looks.  An easy way to add color and pattern without having to paint it on.

I may end up painting the table, maybe a sky blue, but I needed to remove the rough coffee grained finish so if I do paint the the finish, it will be smooth.

I also wanted to see what it would look like stripped.  I love the way the cabinet in my kitchen came out when I stripped it and wanted to see if the wood on the table would look the same.  I also like the mix of the wood against the white folding screen behind it and the bedding.  It adds a nice contrast.  Like I said, a project in progress…decisions…decisions…

How to Strip Furniture

supplies needed: 

  • CitraStrip  – I used the spray, it is much easier to work with
  • Scraper
  • Stripping pads
  • Plastic drop cloth
  • Rubber gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • Bucket filled with water
  • Rags
  • Odorless Mineral Spirits
  • Twine – to remove stubborn stain in crevices

This table has a lot of detailed parts which make it hard to get all the stain off the first time.  You may have to repeat this process a few times to get all the old finish removed.  It is not hard, but it is a messy job.


1.  Place furniture on a plastic drop cloth.  Wear rubber gloves and safety glasses.

2. Spray CitraStrip over entire surface.  Let it sit on the surface for 12 hours or overnight.  I like using CitraStip since it does not smell or burn your skin like heavy duty strippers can.


4. After the CitraStrip stripper does its magic, use a stripping pad and a scraper to help remove the old finish.  Wet the pad in warm water to help remove the old finish.

5. Clean and rinse the rag and clean the surface to remove the old finish and stripper.

Furniture stripping steps

5.  I took the table outside to clean in off. It was 50 degrees over the weekend. Snow on the ground, but it was much easier to get into all the turns and crevices with the strong spray of the hose. Water and wood are not buddies. I only sprayed the water on for 30 seconds and then quickly dried the table.


6.  Dry it off immediately.  Even if you are not using a hose to clean off the stripper, just a rag and a bucket of water. Dry the wood well with a big fluffy towel.  The wood will look darker than it is when wet.   Place it in a dry room.

7.  Depending on how stubborn the stained finish is, you may have to repeat the process.  To get hard-to-reach areas or to get into the decorative turned areas on the legs, I used a piece of twine.  Cut the twine about 12″ long.  Hold the ends in each hand and place the twine into a crevice. Move the twine back and forth fast in the crevice.  This will help loosen the stain and remove it. If it is really stubborn, cover the twine with CitraStrip first.

8.  This step will ensure that all the stripper is removed and it also cleans up the wood.  Once the stain is removed, pour some Odorless Mineral Spirits on a piece of steel wool.  Rub it all over the surface.  Then use a damp rag to remove it.  Dry off the surface with a towel.


I placed the stripped table back where I had it until I can buy more stripper to remove the last of the stain or I decide to paint it.  I will see how I feel about it after looking at it for a few days.

I will keep you posted.

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  1. Hey Diane ~ I think this sweet table would look so fantastic painted. Seems to me the paint would really enhance all the curviness and detail. Crazy weather this winter, huh? Vikki in VA

  2. A very simple transformation but if you look on it, it looks very elegant and pleasing to anyone’s eyes.

  3. You don’t need the mineral spirits step. Water neutralizes the Citristrip. I am almost addicted to using and raving about this stuff.
    I also strip things in my kitchen (cabinets in place) and my MBR, where I’m stripping other things in front of the TV. It doesn’t off-gas like the evil, flesh-eating stuff.

    A tip for (everyone) If you have to leave your piece in warmer weather or in a breeze, cut open plastic grocery bags and press them into the Citristrip. It holds the stripper to the piece, not letting it lift up in its wonderful ribbons.
    Also, be careful spot stripping with Citristrip. It continues to suck the stain out and if you don’t do the whole piece or section, it’ll be lighter. I’ve got antique doors down to raw, beautiful, unstained wood. And they looked like your beautiful table as I was stripping them! BBQ Sauce, right! LOL
    Keep up the gorgeous work. You’re very inspiring!

    1. Thanks Christine –

      It sounds like you have done a little stripping in your DIY past. :) Thanks so much for the tip on using the plastic bags and telling me that mineral spirits are not needed with CitraStrip. I have always used it when I used the heavy duty stinky strippers and never considered it may not be needed. I will try the bag trick on my next stripping project.

  4. You said , “use the hose”, but that , did not damage the wood, with the water?
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Ferchi – Yes water and wood do not mix, but it was a super quick rinsing off. About 30 seconds. I normally would just use a damp rag to remove the stripper residue, but with all the details, I decided to use the hose. I dried it off immediately and very well so the water would not penetrate the wood.

      1. Thank you Diane, this method looks really easy. Not the one that I used to do it, damp rags=too much time.