How To Remove Lacquer from Wood

Though lacquer leaves a glossy and durable on wood furniture, it is such a stubborn tag.

Removing lacquer poses a threat since the chemical used to strip the paint off is hazardous fumes. That makes it a labor-intensive but viable business.


Nonetheless, with proper knowledge and well preparation, you are able to learn how to remove lacquer from wood.

Take your piece of work outside, gear up and roll up your sleeves.

What do you need?

  • A well-ventilated area
  • A respiratory mask
  • Gloves
  • Old clothes (optional)
  • Mix the stripping solution
  • Lacquer thinner
  • Paint Remover
  • A heat gun (optional)
  • Sandpaper

Chances are the paint stripper, and a heat gun is the fastest options.

But those are hard to find and won’t be versatile in many daily uses.

On the other side, lacquer thinner has its own little quirk that makes it interesting to work with.

Before the removal – Safety first

Lacquer, the thinner, or paint themselves are toxins.

Even you have a nice huge room where the fumes dissipate relatively quickly, always put on a respirator.

Chemical gloves are even better if you have them on. Note that lacquer thinner dissolves nitrile gloves, so will the paint stripper.

Into the project

Step 1: Mix the solution

Grab a bucket, pour in lacquer thinner at an equal proportion with denatured alcohol.

This mixture will be responsible for diluting the lacquer finish.

When you do this step, don’t forget your respiratory mask as the reaction emits fume. So, the last thing you may know is passing out if you inhale too much of this hazardous gas.

Step 2: Wipe the mixture

Clean the piece of work to remove all debris and chips.

Apply a thick coat of the blend to the furniture. You can pour the liquid then spread it out with a paint brush.

Give the solvent some time to affect, but don’t let it dry. It should sit there for about one minute because you go to the next step.

You don’t have to coat the whole unit at once. Pour a puddle then use the scraper to push that over.

In our case, we used a chisel to distribute the combination. The hard tool allowed us to use the flat head to pry out some lacquer while spreading the liquid.

Step 3: Scrap the finish

You can keep using the chisel. We also suggest a scraping tool and steel wool for the process. A more easy-to-find ware can be the scouring pad used for dishes found in your kitchen.

Depend on the size of your wooden piece; you will need to put equal effort.

Be patient and give yourself plenty of breaks. Don’t be hasty to scrape hard because it will recess into the bare figure.

Moving the steel wool in circles will take out the finish faster. Keep scrubbing into every crevice if you can to erase as much lacquer as possible.

If the lacquer thinner is in a proper action, this rubbing task should remove a majority of lacquer finish away.

Continue scraping in the same fashion until you see the original surface.

At this point, scrub following the wood’s grain direction.

Try to finish clearing while the thinner is still wet. Then wipe off the remaining thinner with a cloth.

*** We did lid up a fire to dry out the thinner, but we don’t recommend doing that at your home.

Step 4: Clear the left lacquer

It is likely that there are still minor scratches of the old finish. Examine the piece; you can soak it again on the traces to remove what is remaining.

Let the paint stripper sit longer this time then scrape again. Apply the same technique until you get the unit all cleaned.

***As advanced guys in the job, we made use of a heat gun to remove the leftover. We directly drip the stripper onto the surface, also use the scraper while pointing the gun to melt the stuff. All of the crap came off with ease.

>>> See heat gun sample I used

Be very careful when you play with heat because paint and lacquer are flammable material.

Skip this step if you think your furniture is clean enough.

Step 5: Sanding

Use fine-grit sandpaper to smooth out the piece. This helps the re-finish step much easier.

Also, sanding will remove any gunk that left in the previous step.

Step 6: Dispose of the mess

We respect the environment and its habitats. We suggest you don’t store the lacquer dirt in a plastic bag. Using paper is safer.

Wrap the stuff carefully so as not to let your pets or wild animal access to it.

Ta-da! Your wood is ready for a new coat

You can see removing lacquer from wood is a pretty straightforward process that any non-savvy can conduct.

Always keep in mind to prioritize your safety. We wouldn’t stop repeating to protect your face and lungs with a respirator. Also, don’t work with bare hand no matter how handy you are.

Once your piece is free of lacquer, it is ready to wear a new finish. It is time to let your imagination run wild.

Dress up your new furniture with a unique design will make your lacquer removing time worth the effort.