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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all.

I bought this cool little tortilla-keeper from a Mayan craftsman in Yucatan 25 years ago. Unfortunately it was left on a stovetop while the oven was on, and the escaping heat ruined the finish. Given the rustic nature of the piece's origin, do you think this is shellac?

What would you suggest for stripping and refinishing? Thanks!

Gavin
 

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David - Machinist in wood
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Test it with some DNA and see if that softens or removes any finish. If it does then it's likely Shellac. If it is Shellac then you can apply new Shellac right on top of that and it will blend right in.

David
 

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Test it with some DNA and see if that softens or removes any finish. If it does then it's likely Shellac. If it is Shellac then you can apply new Shellac right on top of that and it will blend right in.

David
what if it's lacquer???
 

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If it is not Shellac then something like this is what I would recommend. https://www.amazon.com/Minwax-67300...ds=furniture+refinisher&qid=1589913108&sr=8-1
Recipe for furniture stripper:
Equal parts of acetone, methanol (wood alcohol), methylene chloride and toluene...
soak or paint it on... little goes a long way... wrap/cover the object in a cotton towel and soak the towel... use a white one...
remove the towel and scrape the sludge of w. a plastic putty knife...
don't bother asking what happens if you use a synthetic fabric towel or one that has been dyed...

Always (paint formula, MSDS unknown) consider the probability of the paint being a lead and/or copper base being pretty good... it may fizz/boil/pop/what not a bit.... kinda like mixing Rice Crispies and Alka-Selzer together...
I trust you will be doing this out doors while holding your breath on a breezy day and wearing chemical gloves ...

just never forget you are dealing with unknown paint/finish... do a small segment to start w/ at 1st..
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Thanks for the suggestions guys.

I put isopropyl alcohol on a paper towel and rubbed the bottom if the thing pretty vigorously and got nothing. There was no visible effect or noticeable softening of the finish. So... not shellac?

The good news is that the inside of the container (where food goes) is fine, but if I can avoid toluene and its ilk on my food-service items that'd be nice. That Minwax stripper says it doesn't work on polyurethane, which I guess this could be. Would a transparent coating contain lead? This was from '95, and granted it's from rural Yucatan but I would not have been worried about lead.

I trust you will be doing this out doors while holding your breath on a breezy day and wearing chemical gloves ...
I hate to betray your trust, but the likely scenario is that'll be doing this in the garage of my rental apartment while bathing my hands in and huffing all the required solvents.

What's the next test I should do?
 

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lacquer thinner...
 

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Methylene chloride goes through some types of rubber gloves. I’m not sure which if any are good with it. Plus the fumes are carcinogenic. If a urethane or varnish was used and there was some moisture in the wood the hot sun might have bubbled it.
 

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I finally pulled out my bottle of denatured alcohol (which I've had since the '80s, for tape-deck-head cleaning), and it had no noticeable effect on the finish.
move on to lacquer thinner...
 
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.....What would you suggest for stripping and refinishing? Thanks! Gavin
- my first thought was to hit it with some 400 and give a light sanding to take the finish back to fairly smooth. Then re-apply a new finish.

- one time I was doing a pc of curly maple with spar and the finish <for whatever reason> went to a crinkly finish when it dried <moisture, humidity, who knows>. I hit it with some 400 to knock it back to smooth and re-sprayed. Came out fine.

- ebill
 
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