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View Full Version : Stripping With Sugar Soap?


jackketch
02-13-2009, 08:26 AM
Back when I was a kid I can remember my parents wanted to renovate their bedroom furniture, which was all cheap wartime crap -ie covered in that awful heavy dark varnish.

We stripped it by taking it all outside and then constantly washing and rewashing it with a strong sugar soap and water solution. Took forever-or at least so it seemed to me as a kid. But it worked, slowly but surely the varnish came off and the wood didn't seem to split or crack.

I'd be interested in trying the technique again because to be frank stripping is one of my least favourite jobs. Either I'm having to use chemicals I'd rather not have lying around or a heat gun which I dislike too. I've seen too many bits of furniture ruined by people who thought you couldn't burn wood with a 500C electric 'hair dryer'!

I've asked my parents but it was 30 years ago and neither of them can remember how or why they did it that way. They probably got the idea out of some DIY mag or off some 70's DIY TV prog.

Anyone used this technique or know anything about it? Do you know if it would work on gloss? Why didn't it split the wood?

Oh and for those who are thinking "WTF IS SUGAR SOAP???!" it's a strong degreasant beloved of professional painters, traditionally used to prep surfaces before painting.No it does not contain sugar (it used to come in crystal powder or 'sugar' form).

Dr rocker
02-13-2009, 10:35 PM
Weathering outdoors could have helped. Also, being outdoors would mean good humidity and no wide variations in temp, meaning less chance of spliting. Have you not tried nitromours (sp?). It isnt so bad if you get it on your skin, takes a minute before it starts to tingle!

Virus
02-14-2009, 10:15 PM
Anyone used this technique or know anything about it? Do you know if it would work on gloss? Why didn't it split the wood?


I used something similar know as TSP. It looks like sugar, but the epa pretty much banhammered phosphorus, so good luck finding it. If you have ever used brasso, that is how sugar soap works.

Gloss what? Polyurethane, Varnish, epoxy? There are lots of possibilities, but yeah it should work but I've got a better option for you.

I've had it split wood on old projects. Same thing happens if the outside humidty is drastically different than the water content of the wood. That's why I don't recommend it.

I'd sand it, ketch. If you are working on a modern project, you are most likely dealing with polyurethane which is a pain to strip with chemicals. Give me some more info about your project and I'll find a solution.

jackketch
02-14-2009, 10:32 PM
I used something similar know as TSP. It looks like sugar, but the epa pretty much banhammered phosphorus, so good luck finding it. If you have ever used brasso, that is how sugar soap works.

Gloss what? Polyurethane, Varnish, epoxy? There are lots of possibilities, but yeah it should work but I've got a better option for you.

I've had it split wood on old projects. Same thing happens if the outside humidty is drastically different than the water content of the wood. That's why I don't recommend it.

I'd sand it, ketch. If you are working on a modern project, you are most likely dealing with polyurethane which is a pain to strip with chemicals. Give me some more info about your project and I'll find a solution.

Problem is I don't know what I'm working on.

Let me explain, I live in a house that is about 100 years old. Most of the painted wood has been 'renovated' countless times by countless people. Each time they just covered over what was there before.

Was the same when I did the floorboards. If you've ever tried to remove 100 year old fossiled floor wax, under 90 year old (lead based?) floor paint then you'll know the meaning of the word 'patience' (and before you say 'sand', that doesn't work -the wax will clog up a belt in a heartbeat).

However thanks anyway, you've given me an idea. I had totally forgotten about 'brasso'. Back in the day we used to use it to 't-cut' badly worn car lacquer. I've just googled and it seems people use it to strip shellac. If it will strip shellac maybe it'll do whatever is covering my banisters. I might give it a try on a test area.

*edit just tried brasso on a test area and yes it does strip, believe it or not. But however it would be of course ruinously expensive to use in the amounts I'd need! Sugar soap is dirt cheap. Oh btw , Dr rocker- i hate nitromoss etc- it's expensive and never really works. I always end up with gunked up bits of wire wool. I've stripped countless doors, chairs etc etc with such chemical strippers and each time I use them I swear the next time I will take it to caustic soda bath using professional stripper.

Virus
02-14-2009, 11:00 PM
Was the same when I did the floorboards. If you've ever tried to remove 100 year old fossiled floor wax, under 90 year old (lead based?) floor paint then you'll know the meaning of the word 'patience' (and before you say 'sand', that doesn't work -the wax will clog up a belt in a heartbeat).



Respirator+reversing the belt=win. ;)

But yeah, if you were desperate you could make your own ghetto liquid abrasive by powdering a bench grinder wheel and mixing it with water.

jackketch
02-14-2009, 11:07 PM
Respirator+reversing the belt=win. ;)

But yeah, if you were desperate you could make your own ghetto liquid abrasive by powdering a bench grinder wheel and mixing it with water.


Respirator? Must be some faggy american thing.... or the word doesn't mean the same here. I smoke 60 hand rolls a day. :P And if I remember rightly there's a reason why we don't reverse belts...

Virus
02-15-2009, 12:15 AM
Respirator? Must be some faggy american thing.... or the word doesn't mean the same here. I smoke 60 hand rolls a day. :P And if I remember rightly there's a reason why we don't reverse belts...

A respirator is like a dust mask, but it blocks asbestos and stuff like that. Think of it one step below a gas mask.

Bi-directional belts, must be a faggy american thing ;):

http://www.toolbarn.com/product/bosch/SB6R100/

IIIII
02-15-2009, 12:24 AM
There is no completely safe method for "do-it-yourself" removal of lead-based paint, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Each of the paint-removal methods - sandpaper, scrapers, chemicals, and torches or heat guns - can produce lead fumes or dust. Fumes or dust can become airborne and be inhaled. Further, dust can settle on floors, walls, and tables, and can cause problems. It can be ingested by children from hand-to-mouth contact. It can re-enter the air through cleaning (such as sweeping or vacuuming) or by movements of people throughout the house. Lead-based paint should be removed only by professionals, trained in hazardous material removal, who follow detailed procedures to control and contain lead dust.

Lead-based paint may be found on any interior or exterior surface in an older home, particularly on woodwork, doors, and windows. Heavily-leaded paint was used in about two-thirds of homes built before 1940, one-half of homes built from 1940 to 1960, and some homes built after 1960. In 1978, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission lowered the legal lead content in most paint to 0.06% (a trace amount).

Lead-based paint is a major source of lead poisoning for children and can also affect adults. Lead poisoning can cause brain damage and can result in impaired mental functions. Lead poisoning in children can result in retarded mental and physical development and reduced attention span. In adults, lead poisoning can cause irritability, poor muscle coordination, nerve damage to the sense organs and nerves controlling the body, and may cause problems with reproduction (such as decreased sperm counts). Lead poisoning may also increase the blood pressure in adults. Retarded fetal development can occur at even low blood lead levels. Thus, unborn children, infants, young children, and adults with high blood pressure have been identified as being most vulnerable to the effects of lead.

Consumers themselves cannot tell whether their paint contains lead. Before removing old paint, have the paint checked for lead content. Some local or state health or housing departments can suggest which private labs or public agencies can test your paint for lead or how to obtain a sample for testing. If testing is unavailable or costly, consumers should assume that older painted surfaces contain lead.

Lead-based paint should be removed only by professionals trained in hazardous material removal. Consumers should not attempt to remove lead-based paint. Any attempt to remove lead-based paint may create a serious hazard in the house. A trained professional must follow very detailed procedures to minimize, control and contain lead dust generated by the removal process. These procedures are included in the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Interim Guidelines for Removal of Lead-Based Paint. Homeowners should obtain the HUD interim guidelines and assure that contractors use them. Homeowners should question contractors about their familiarity with the following procedures:

* The room should be sealed from the rest of the house. All furniture, carpets and drapes should be removed.

* Workers should wear respirators designed to avoid inhaling lead.

* No eating or drinking should be allowed in the work area. All food and eating utensils should be removed from the room. All cabinets as well as food contact surfaces should be covered and sealed.

* Children and other occupants (especially infants, pregnant women, and adults with high blood pressure) should be kept out of the house until the job is completed.

* Clothing worn in the room should be disposed of after working. The work clothing should not be worn in other areas of the house.

* Debris should be cleaned up using special vacuum cleaners with HEPA (high efficiency particle absorption) filters. A wet mop should be used after vacuuming.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has evaluated methods for removal of lead-based paint. HUD has contracted out to develop for removal of lead-based paint.

008902
http://www.cpsc.gov/CPSCPUB/PUBS/5055.html

jackketch
02-15-2009, 06:39 AM
A respirator is like a dust mask, but it blocks asbestos and stuff like that. Think of it one step below a gas mask.

Bi-directional belts, must be a faggy american thing ;):

http://www.toolbarn.com/product/bosch/SB6R100/

Ok I'll admit I've never heard of bi-directional belts and have never used them....even when I was running my own firm. You live and learn.

Yep thats what I thought you meant by 'respirator'. I'm afraid I'm old school. Safety gear is the cigarette hanging from my lower lip and a pair of safety glasses. You protect your eyes, everything else will heal...sort of and smoking 60 a day means i don't have to worry about toxins.

Gloves? Only if it is something that will strip flesh from fingers.

MunkeyQ
02-15-2009, 11:50 PM
I've had good experiences using Nitromors on wood, even rather expensive hardwoods. It's nasty stuff to get on your hands and stinks like something awful, but it does work well.

I once bought a pair of vintage Thiel speakers (expensive stuff!) which someone had brutally slathered in hideous purple gloss over the walnut wood. One application of Nitromors took off all the gloss and left the wood untouched. A bit of sanding followed by teak oil and wax brought back that deep walnut shine.

smitty
02-16-2009, 08:27 AM
There is no completely safe method for "do-it-yourself" removal of lead-based paint, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Each of the paint-removal methods - sandpaper, scrapers, chemicals, and torches or heat guns - can produce lead fumes or dust. Fumes or dust can become airborne and be inhaled. Further, dust can settle on floors, walls, and tables, and can cause problems. It can be ingested by children from hand-to-mouth contact. It can re-enter the air through cleaning (such as sweeping or vacuuming) or by movements of people throughout the house. Lead-based paint should be removed only by professionals, trained in hazardous material removal, who follow detailed procedures to control and contain lead dust.

Lead-based paint may be found on any interior or exterior surface in an older home, particularly on woodwork, doors, and windows. Heavily-leaded paint was used in about two-thirds of homes built before 1940, one-half of homes built from 1940 to 1960, and some homes built after 1960. In 1978, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission lowered the legal lead content in most paint to 0.06% (a trace amount).

Lead-based paint is a major source of lead poisoning for children and can also affect adults. Lead poisoning can cause brain damage and can result in impaired mental functions. Lead poisoning in children can result in retarded mental and physical development and reduced attention span. In adults, lead poisoning can cause irritability, poor muscle coordination, nerve damage to the sense organs and nerves controlling the body, and may cause problems with reproduction (such as decreased sperm counts). Lead poisoning may also increase the blood pressure in adults. Retarded fetal development can occur at even low blood lead levels. Thus, unborn children, infants, young children, and adults with high blood pressure have been identified as being most vulnerable to the effects of lead.

Consumers themselves cannot tell whether their paint contains lead. Before removing old paint, have the paint checked for lead content. Some local or state health or housing departments can suggest which private labs or public agencies can test your paint for lead or how to obtain a sample for testing. If testing is unavailable or costly, consumers should assume that older painted surfaces contain lead.

Lead-based paint should be removed only by professionals trained in hazardous material removal. Consumers should not attempt to remove lead-based paint. Any attempt to remove lead-based paint may create a serious hazard in the house. A trained professional must follow very detailed procedures to minimize, control and contain lead dust generated by the removal process. These procedures are included in the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Interim Guidelines for Removal of Lead-Based Paint. Homeowners should obtain the HUD interim guidelines and assure that contractors use them. Homeowners should question contractors about their familiarity with the following procedures:

* The room should be sealed from the rest of the house. All furniture, carpets and drapes should be removed.

* Workers should wear respirators designed to avoid inhaling lead.

* No eating or drinking should be allowed in the work area. All food and eating utensils should be removed from the room. All cabinets as well as food contact surfaces should be covered and sealed.

* Children and other occupants (especially infants, pregnant women, and adults with high blood pressure) should be kept out of the house until the job is completed.

* Clothing worn in the room should be disposed of after working. The work clothing should not be worn in other areas of the house.

* Debris should be cleaned up using special vacuum cleaners with HEPA (high efficiency particle absorption) filters. A wet mop should be used after vacuuming.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has evaluated methods for removal of lead-based paint. HUD has contracted out to develop for removal of lead-based paint.

008902
http://www.cpsc.gov/CPSCPUB/PUBS/5055.html

You can buy test kits to check for lead content in paints.