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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have this stack of Red Oak church benches that I acquires a long time ago. I want to do SOMETHING with them, to both make them go away, and to make at least some money with them.

People here have told me that I will destroy MY helical planer by cutting these bench planks into boards and running them through. Something about the finish on the wood being detrimental to the blades, or it will clog up the machine, or ... ...

So my question is, can someone give me a way to STRIP the finish off of these boards economically, and with reasonable effort, so that the planks and other parts CAN be run through the planer without worrying about what the coating on the benches will do to the blades?

I thought about laying the planks onto the floor, and just running over the flat backs with an orbital floor sander, to get down to the wood. The problem is, the front side is curved (for seating comfort, I suppose) and a sander will not conform to that curve unless I just sand down the entire profile to flat, and THAT seems like a lot of work!

Can I just buy a boat load of paper towels and use M.E.K. to strip them? Would another substance work better? Gasoline? Kerosene? I know ... wear a mask and do that OUTDOORS!

A friend jokingly (?) suggested laying the boards across steel saw horses, spray the face with diesel fuel, light them on fire one at a time, and then dowse them with water after the varnish has burned off. After that, he said the planer would only be dealing with a charred surface, but no coating. EVEN IF that works, I have 103 of these benches, and each 8 to 16 feet long and the longest ones weighing well over 100 pounds! My good friend, Dave had a massive stroke last New Year's Eve, so I have no helper now.

I am not opposed to slicing these things up into four to six foot lengths for manhandling, using a simple circular saw. Most everything I make out of this wood, would probably be portable TV size or smaller, although I have thought about the five-foot wide table and two-bench sets too. So many options, so little ENERGY.

But is there some other less deadly stripper I could paint or spray onto this wood, to remove the (varnish / lacquer / clear coat / whatever) from the wood, so that I can get it to a state where it can be fed into the planer or a sander, or otherwise processed with normal woodworking tools? I am not looking for beautiful wood finished here. I will probably paint or "chalk paint" nearly everything, unless you have a better suggestion.

I recently added another tool to my shop, although I am not doing anything with anything, at the moment. I would like to turn these benches into Christmas gifts, and sell the whole lot at a Christmas Craft Fair in Nashville in ... November???

I have thought about using my CNC router to simply carve silhouette shapes of manger scenes, Snowmen, Tin Soldiers, Nutcrackers, etc., and then paint them. Or I could just slice them up into tiles and make a thousand wooden bird houses, and not worry at all about the finish. Or I could make a hundred thousand wooden COASTERS!

I need some suggestions from you PROs. I am WAY over my head on this stuff, and I have basically lost any motivation. 馃槙

Joe

This is the most recent machine that followed me home.

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Here is the planer.

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I also have a nice laser to play with

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and I have most recently added the X-Tool D1 PRO with the extended frame. It is a 20 Watt Blue Diode laser, and I am looking forward to seeing what can be done with it!

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I was using a community hobby shop running painted boards through the thickness planer and the shop guy said to cut at least 1/16" below the paint, then the blades will be cutting mostly wood and not the hard enamel paint. If I were to do that again, I would do some test boards to see if that method is still accurate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I was using a community hobby shop running painted boards through the thickness planer and the shop guy said to cut at least 1/16" below the paint, then the blades will be cutting mostly wood and not the hard enamel paint. If I were to do that again, I would do some test boards to see if that method is still accurate.
Is the coating on the wood really HARDER than the wood? I find it difficult to imagine that carbide blades would be defeated by a coating of lacquer or whatever it is they use to coat these benches. I do admit to having almost ZERO experience with woodworking, so I am not doubting you. I just thought that hardened steel blades would not be bothered by a layer of lacquer or paint.

Joe
 

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that is what a thickness planer does: it cuts wood, removing layer after layer, hour after hour, day after day. That is what it is made for. . . . some people just overthink some of the most simplest things.
 
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Just my 2c...

First, I would cut them to a more manageable size, then run some through that sander with a rougher grit.

I doubt the sander or thickness planer would be too worried by the finish.

The curved side is always going to be a nuisance...IMO.
 
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Here is a method for stripping old varnish from wood that my dad showed me more than 50 years ago. It works well on the old time varnishes and some paints and It is fast. I had a set of oak chairs that had carved areas to strip and refinish and this method did the job without hours of scraping.

Go to the grocery store or hardware store and get a can of lye ( sodium hydroxide ). I used Gilets brand. Dissolve the can or a portion of it in a glass jar, maybe a half can to a quart or so of water. Don't use a plastic or aluminum container as the lye is caustic and will eat them. Wear eye protection, rubber gloves, long pants and long sleeve shirt. Do this out side. Paint a liberal amount of the solution on a board using a natural fiber paint brush, no synthetic fiber. Keep the board wet, maybe do it in the shade and wait about 15 minutes. Hose it off with the garden hose.

You can experiment with the strength and time to wait. Be careful as this stuff can burn. You will notice that the solution heats up as it dissolves. Don't splash it around when applying. It worked well for me over the years and had the advantage of bleaching out the stain as well as stripping the varnish on those chairs I did. It won't work on the newer poly type finishes. It's worth a try as it is cheap to produce and effective to use. Just be careful.
 

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I wouldn't worry about the planer cutters. Also, with that nice big sander, you have the perfect tool to remove all the finish. If you still want to strip it, use a water based stripper and clean it off with a good power washer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I wouldn't worry about the planer cutters. Also, with that nice big sander, you have the perfect tool to remove all the finish. If you still want to strip it, use a water based stripper and clean it off with a good power washer.
Wow. I didn't even know there was such a thing as a water based stripper.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
That amount of wood. Run them through the planer. After your done buy a new set of planer blades. The stripper and time you would use would buy many sets of planer blades.
It is a helical cutter. those little squares are 'Spensive, Lucy! :oops:

92 Inserts at $10.00 EACH!



I know those helical blades have FOUR cutting edges, so I GUESS I could go through a set, rotating them as needed, and then buying a whole new set after the fact ... I will cut a four foot plank and give it a test, to see how it comes out.

Joe
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
with that nice big sander, you have the perfect tool to remove all the finish.
The front surface of the bench backs is contoured for lumbar support and such. The sander cannot get to the entire surface, unless I just sand down the humps to a flat plane. That seems like a LOT of sanding. :unsure:

I admit I know ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about woodworking. The "big plan" is to plane and/or sand the back (flat) side and have that side facing out of whatever I build ... wall clocks, bread boxes, bird houses, etc., and leave the contoured back side alone. No one will care if the back side of a wall clock isn't exactly flat.

I can CNC bore some holes and glue short pegs of the same length into the holes with cute little rubber feet :ROFLMAO: so it rests flat against a wall, or on a table surface.

Joe
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
So I bought the EASTWOOD version of this tool, which was quite a bit more expensive than the one Harbor Freight Tools is offering. They LOOK the same, but we all know how the Chinese can copy virtually anything, and make it a thousand times cheaper in QUALITY and life expectancy.

I am thinking of trying this, and doing a side-by-side test of the two units, as I attempt to sand the contours of these church benches.

What do YOU think (or KNOW?) about the cheaper HFT version bearing the BAUER name?

Joe

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
that is what a thickness planer does: it cuts wood, removing layer after layer, hour after hour, day after day. That is what it is made for. . . . some people just overthink some of the most simplest things.
Man, I wish one of you guys who KNOWS what you are doing lived a lot closer to me! I could really use a woodworking mentor here.

I am surrounded by farmers, and dairy workers and such. I cannot find any real "shop guys" around here. I have hired people to help me with projects, but it soon becomes obvious that they do not know what they are doing with power tools, and that scares the %^&* out of me.

Some of them cannot even read a tape measure. When I hire someone, I hand him a piece of wood and a tape measure. I ask, "How long is that piece?" If he answers, "It is 14 and a little bit more... closer to 15, I guess ..." I give him a $20.00 bill for coming out, and tell him I cannot use him. :confused:

Joe
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Citrustrip at Home Depot
Kleanstrip at Home Depot
Thanks! I will head to my local Lowe's and ACE Hardware (60 miles closer!) to look for some today. Maybe I should saw off a piece to bring in, you know ... just in case there is someone there who can actually answer a question.

Joe

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It is a helical cutter. those little squares are 'Spensive, Lucy! :oops:

92 Inserts at $10.00 EACH!



I know those helical blades have FOUR cutting edges, so I GUESS I could go through a set, rotating them as needed, and then buying a whole new set after the fact ... I will cut a four foot plank and give it a test, to see how it comes out.

Joe
Ha and now you know why I don't have one of those. The thought of changing those even once put the fear into me. I can change a set of normal blades in 10 minutes or less in my dewalt. If it was me I would go out and buy a lunch box planner for that job and then give it away to someone or put it out in the shed for the next time I needed that same tool.
 
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