Choose a workspace, preferably outdoors or one that is well ventilated, such as your open garage. If your furniture is on a back patio, you can work there. Just take the time to protect the patio or floor surface from drips, stains and damage, with drop cloths. Secure the drop cloths with painter’s tape to keep them in place.
Remove loose paint or finish by going over the whole piece with a paint scraper. To remove finishes quickly from larger pieces of furniture, use a belt sander. Take care not to damage your furniture by sanding too deeply. Sand carefully by hand around decoratively curved areas with a fine-grit sanding sponge.
You can also use a chemical stripping agent. Most chemical strippers need to be mixed with water so check the manufacturer’s directions before applying. Using a medium-sized paintbrush, apply the solution evenly over the surface. Let it soak 20 to 30 minutes, then remove the old finish using a plastic scraper or a smooth, round-edged putty knife. The surface may be soft so be careful not to damage it with the scraper. Allow the piece to dry completely.
Always follow manufacturer’s instructions and wear rubber gloves and protective goggles when using strong chemicals.
Never strip furniture near an open flame as stripping chemicals can ignite.
Use chemical strippers clearly marked “no cleanup” or “will wash away with water.” However, the “no cleanup” type may leave a residue, which must be sanded away. Residue from the “wash away” type can be removed by rinsing with water. Be aware that water may raise the grain of the wood. Lightly sand to reduce this effect.
Heat guns can be used as a supplement to other methods to remove particularly stubborn finishes.