removing primer from wood pores for refinishing

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Forum topic by James Frederick posted 10-12-2010 08:28 PM 8863 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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James Frederick

174 posts in 3689 days

10-12-2010 08:28 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question refinishing primer restoration

I have been given a antique for restoration, that was previously stained, then repaired with bondo, and primed and painted, then a few years ago stripped back to the stain. The problem is the primer is in the pores of the veneer ( either mahogany or similar wood).

My question is how or what can i do to get the residual primer out of the pores, they like the current stain color, but would like the white specs removed if possible?

-- Change begins somewhere may as well be with me.

7 replies so far

View tbone's profile


276 posts in 3653 days

#1 posted 10-13-2010 04:57 PM

I think that the reason no one has answered your question yet is because it may be tough—or impossible to do.
Because mahogany is an ‘open pore’ hardwood, it has sucked up all that bondo and primer from years past.
A can of black paste wax and a gallon of elbow grease MAY cover up some of the offending pores, but I doubt if it will help much.

Good luck.

-- Kinky Friedman: "The first thing I'll do if I'm elected is demand a recount."

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4187 days

#2 posted 10-13-2010 05:21 PM

If we were talking solid wood, I’d tell you to just keep sanding and then restain. But with a veneer, I doubt seriously you can get that primer out without sanding all the way through the stain and the veneer.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View NathanAllen's profile


376 posts in 3113 days

#3 posted 10-13-2010 05:51 PM

In my opinion your only real hope is methylene chloride then flooding with thinner scrub rinse… repeat. Because it is caustic it will eat through any soft brush you throw at it, so not an ideal situation, but worth a good try. I’ve been able to remove stain and paint from Red Oak with this method, but lots of sweat and handling a serious chemical.

Otherwise a toned shellac coat or possibly milk paint/glaze would probably cover the worst offending. If you sell it right you could get buy-in based on using a traditional finish on an antique.

View Gofor's profile


470 posts in 3755 days

#4 posted 10-14-2010 02:16 AM

Methylene Chloride is some nasty stuff, so wear eye, hand, and splash protection and have some water immediately handy to flush your eyes if it gets into them (i.e. a water hose with water turned on and spray nozzle attached). Wear long heavy rubber gloves (nitrile will not cut it for this stuff) and roll up the cuffs so the stuff does not run down your sleeves or onto your arms if you raise your hands. If the gloves start to elongate on the fingers, etc, get them off, rinse your hands and find more suitable gloves.

Fumes are nasty too, and will irritate the lungs, so have good ventilation or wear an organic filter respirator (one with a charcoal element).

Thinner will not neutralize it, it will take water. Read and heed the safety warnings on the container. I am not a lawyer, etc, but someone who personally used this stuff for almost 40 years in the aircraft industry.

It may be the only thing that will lift out the primer, but still may not work on the bondo without some agitation from a metal brush. Bondo is a catayzed coating, and the stripper has to get under it to break the bond. As the stripper can dry fast from evaporation, you may want to lay a coat of stripper on it and cover with plastic so that it has a chance to work down into the pores.

If its veneer, it may also dissolve the veneer glue. test a small area first if possible.



-- Go

View BertFlores58's profile


1694 posts in 2891 days

#5 posted 10-14-2010 10:45 AM

The strongest penetrating liquid I used is the EPOXY reducer. The only tiresome job is wiping several time when clean rags. The epoxy reducer desolves the stains, paints, lacquers except acrylic and glue stuff. While the stain is soak with reducer, it starts to bubble up and you need to wipe it. Try it, I have the best results in all my recycling jobs. However please take care and read this msds

-- Bert

View James Frederick's profile

James Frederick

174 posts in 3689 days

#6 posted 10-14-2010 04:20 PM

Wow I have a meeting with the owner, and will explain the additional costs associated with the removal of the primer. I want to avoid any harsh Chemicals if possible, and honestly i won’t make enough to warrant the investment in time and Materials.

Thank you everyone for all hte great insight, again this website has proven invaluable to me.


-- Change begins somewhere may as well be with me.

View chulinho's profile


1 post in 1083 days

#7 posted 05-08-2015 08:40 AM

Sorry to resurrect this old post, but it is one of the few places where I found this question answered and I wanted to leave my feedback for others who might find it.
I need to remove paint from a teak veneer, with open pores too. Since it is a veneer, sanding is out of the question. I did remove the bulk of the paint with a paint stripper (chemical), but paint in the pores remained.
The paint stripper has a gel like consistency, so that one can work on vertical surfaces etc, so I tried to thin the stripper with water and use a few soaked rags on the veneer, hoping that it would penetrate the pores easily, but that didn’t make much difference (I used water after checking the safety data sheet for the paint stripper on-line and searching for the main components, but depending on the components, you might have to use alcohol)
Anyway, I then tried with white spirits, but it didn’t make a big difference either.

Finally, I tried with Methylated spirits and it did work. I soaked a few rugs in the stuff, put them on top of the veneer so that the pores absorb it, put a plastic on top of it to prevent it from evaporating too fast, and left it there for 15-20 minutes. Then I removed the rags one by one and rubbed the surface with cotton buds following hte grain direction. I had to repeat the process 3 or 4 times, but there are no traces of the paint now.

So bottomline is: find the right solvent for the stuff you are dealing with. you mihgt have to try a few things, but there are not so many different ones.


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