Lacquer on Chisels - SUCCESS!!

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Forum topic by Sandra posted 02-10-2013 05:22 PM 7466 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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7186 posts in 1982 days

02-10-2013 05:22 PM

I have a new set of Stanley sweetheart chisels that have been patiently waiting for me in a drawer of my work table.

My night time reading has been Leonard Lee’s Complete Guide to Sharpening, I have an angle jig and guide at the ready, today may be the day…..

My question is this: how exactly do you get lacquer off the chisels? Please…... talk…... very…... slowly…...
I’ve read about solvent and acetone. Only thing I know about acetone is that I think that’s what’s in nail polish remover. Would Varsol work?? If not, what would you recommend, and a brand name would be appreciated.


Update – From the mom-files!

I found a bottle of drug-store brand nail polish remover under the sink. First ingredient was acetone. So I poured some into a glass pie plate, propped up one end slightly to make a bath for the chisels without getting the acetone in the handle area.

I let them soak for about an hour and then scrubbed them down with an SOS pad. Not sure what they’d be in the US, but they are steel-wool type scouring pads for the kitchen that are pre-soaked with detergent.

It took a bit of elbow grease and a few drops of blood (who knew they’d be that sharp already…..) but they are done.

Thanks for the help. I had read the blogs also, and was going to head in tomorrow to HD to find the ‘blue can’ stuff.


-- No, I don't want to buy the pink hammer.

22 replies so far

View GaryL's profile


1099 posts in 2737 days

#1 posted 02-10-2013 05:24 PM

Any lacquer thinner should take it off.

-- Gary; Marysville, MI...Involve your children in your projects as much as possible, the return is priceless.

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Monte Pittman

28190 posts in 2245 days

#2 posted 02-10-2013 05:31 PM

Any hardware store should have acetone also

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View DocSavage45's profile


8459 posts in 2749 days

#3 posted 02-10-2013 05:41 PM

yep! follow directions. Be sure the space is WELL VENTILLATED. air out the rags. Don’t be like me, be patient. LOL!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View PurpLev's profile


8534 posts in 3555 days

#4 posted 02-10-2013 05:42 PM

you can get lacquer thinner at the home improvement/hardware/woodworking store.

curious though – where (and why) do you have lacquer on your chisels that you need to remove it?

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View OggieOglethorpe's profile


1276 posts in 2017 days

#5 posted 02-10-2013 05:44 PM

Whatever Stanley puts on those things, it’s TOUGH! I don’t think it’s lacquer, but some sort of urethane.

Lacquer thinner or acetone didn’t strip mine, I ended up removing the handles and soaking them in a stripper formulated to break urethane.

By comparison, my Two Cherries and Pfiel tools had a coating that wiped right off with lacquer thinner.

View Sandra's profile


7186 posts in 1982 days

#6 posted 02-10-2013 06:49 PM

Sorry for being obtuse but Varsol, which I have on hand, is a paint thinner.
Is that the same as lacquer thinner?
If I hadn’t read posts on the Stanley chisels, I never would have known that I’m supposed to strip them. I don’t recall anything in the packaging, but it has been awhile.


-- No, I don't want to buy the pink hammer.

View a1Jim's profile


116906 posts in 3484 days

#7 posted 02-10-2013 07:46 PM

No Paint thinner is not the same as lacquer thing lacquer thinner is much stronger and more effective
at removing lacquer finishes because it’s the solvent used to mix Lacquer in .

-- Custom furniture

View patron's profile


13594 posts in 3248 days

#8 posted 02-10-2013 07:58 PM

A paint thinner is a solvent used to thin oil-based paints or clean up after their use. Commercially, solvents labeled “Paint Thinner” are usually mineral spirits
good for cleaning many plastics and vinyls

Lacquer Thinner is usually a mixture of solvents able to dissolve a number of different resins or plastics used in modern Lacquer.
softens and can remove many plastics and vinyls

Shellac is a lacquer with an alcohol as solvent.

here is general discussion on solvents

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

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1497 posts in 2039 days

#9 posted 02-10-2013 08:50 PM

Sandra, Sorry to hear of your trials and tribulatiions, I Googled “Stanley Chisel Coating” And got quite a BLOG on the difficulty you are also having. Only one person came up with an answer that said it came right off and that was “The Blue Can ” acetone (Straight maybe 100%) from HD Lowe’s probably has the equivalent of pure acetone. Other mixed solvents and laquer thinners MEK and such didn’t touch it. One guy soaked his several days in laquer thinner then scraped most off with a razor blade.

-- Russell Pitner Hixson, TN 37343

View SamuraiSaw's profile


513 posts in 1871 days

#10 posted 02-10-2013 08:53 PM

I had the same issue with Marples chisels. Soaking for an hour or so in lacquer thinner softened it enough to scrape it off.

-- Artisan Woodworks of Texas....

View BigYin's profile


406 posts in 2323 days

#11 posted 02-10-2013 08:56 PM

Anyone email stanley and ask what the coating is and what removes it ?

-- ... Never Apologise For Being Right ...

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935 posts in 1859 days

#12 posted 02-10-2013 09:00 PM

Yep, you can get a can of acetone in the paint department at Lowes. Acetone is a very strong solvent that will attack most plastics, so be careful where you use it. Remove the handles before you try to clean your chisels or you will be left with bare wood. Acetone is relatively non-toxic, but use it in a well ventilated area and away from any ignition sources. Wear good rubber gloves. You can let any rags air dry or rinse them with water (water and acetone are miscible).

View Sandra's profile


7186 posts in 1982 days

#13 posted 02-10-2013 09:44 PM

Feeling quite pleased with the outcome. Can I name it the Sandra method? Or how about the witchin’ kitchin’ method???

-- No, I don't want to buy the pink hammer.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15121 posts in 2525 days

#14 posted 02-10-2013 09:55 PM

Should I be pleased that the lacquer coating doesn’t bother me, or should I be wanting to strip my SW #750s? I figure ‘no harm, no foul…’

Sandra, I am glad you found a solution! Enjoy the chisels, I love ‘em!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View OggieOglethorpe's profile


1276 posts in 2017 days

#15 posted 02-10-2013 10:24 PM

If the coating is left in place, it clogs stones when the backs are flattened.

I go it off my set with a stripper that removes urethanes, no scrubbing required. It is certainly tough stuff!

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