Need advise for removing varnish

Discussion in 'Wooden Boat Building and Restoration' started by 58Dunphy, Nov 20, 2007.

  1. 58Dunphy
    Joined: Jul 2007
    Posts: 2
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Wisconsin

    58Dunphy 58 Dunphy Imperial Robalo

    Is there a good way to remove varnish from a plywood boat? I emailed one company that sells stripper and they said it will make the plywood soft. Any help would be great.

    I attached two pictures of the boat I'm trying to remove the varnish from. Thanks for the advise received so far.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Nov 21, 2007
  2. ucb4ume
    Joined: Nov 2006
    Posts: 49
    Likes: 7, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 73
    Location: louisiana

    ucb4ume Junior Member

    I don't know if this helps or not, but...

    Common carberator cleaner will remove varnish from a wood surface.

    How do I know?

    I was changing the registration numbers on my boat and I used carberator cleaner to remove the sticky residue from the previous letters that were stuck to an epoxy surface. It worked great for cleaning the epoxy surface.

    However, without thinking about it, when I had finished I laid the rag on my varnished deck. The rag, still damp with carberator cleaner, was left on the varnished surface for about 5 minutes. When I picked up the rag (now dry), the varnish underneath it had become dry and flakey. I simply brushed it away with my hand to expose the bare wood. I was amazed at how quickly the carb cleaner had disolved the varnish, but I guess that's what carb cleaner was designed to do.

    If I ever need to remove varnish, I'll just buy a cheap can of carb cleaner. Since it evaporates quickly, I don't think it will make the plywood soft. You might want to try a small, unseen test patch before using it in more visible areas.

    Oh, and I did have to revarnish the entire deck.
     
  3. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
    Posts: 19,133
    Likes: 472, Points: 93, Legacy Rep: 3967
    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Carb cleaner will stain the wood considerably.

    There are several strippers available, but it's not the best way for clear finishes if you want to make them clear again. Unfortunately, scraping is the best and safest method. Sanding usually leaves the surface blotchy, especially when you get into the raw wood in some areas and not in others.

    Plywood has a thin outer veneer that also works against you, so aggressive sanding can go right through this outer veneer, which generally ruins a nice section of plywood.

    Plywood as a rule, doesn't look particularly good under clear finishes, unless it's a sliced veneer panel (not very common, as most are rotary cut).

    Strippers are good if you have a lot of material to remove, like several layers of paint or years of built up varnish. Generally you use the stripper to remove the bulk of the surface build up, then scrape it down to the bare wood.
     

  4. BOATMIK
    Joined: Nov 2004
    Posts: 294
    Likes: 15, Points: 28, Legacy Rep: 190
    Location: Adelaide, South Australia

    BOATMIK Deeply flawed human being

    I have had very furry results from using strippers. They almost always seem to damage the wood.

    I only use a hot air gun now and have done a number of major restorations and refurbishments with this single inexpensive tool and and some sharpened scrapers.

    Whichever way you go it is a lot of work.
     
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