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Thread: Stripping old varnish with hand planes

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2021
    New Hampster, USA

    Stripping old varnish with hand planes

    In the past I have stripped old varnish with chemicals, sandpaper, and heatgun/scraper but this year started doing it with hand planes and it is much faster and leaves a finish-ready surface. Does anyone else use handplanes to strip old varnish? What planes do you use for tight areas with obstructions like a curved section of toerail with a jib traveler on top next to stanchions? I thought about small luthier planes but am not sure if anything with a fixed throat can get a bite on an inside curve.

  2. #2
    A card scraper.

    In fact, I start with a card scraper to get some of the main stuff off even the open areas.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Lake Gaston, Henrico, NC
    Most of my old varnish removal is done with this particular scraper. It's used in corners that a disk can't get to by professional floor finishers. The 1" width may seem small, but you can get more pressure on it than a 2" one, and I almost never use a bigger one even on large areas.

    The little LV detail scraper is worth what it costs too:

  4. #4
    I have used planes to remove finish. It can be risky if there is any possibility of tear-out. Happily a lot of boat wood is very straight grained. Sorta off topic, but I did run into a problem where I had glued in a transom, only to realize I had not checked the Noahs pumps, which look rather like they were designed for Ketchup. Turned out they were radically off, and I had to tear the boat down and start again. I used a plane to get rid of the epoxy, it worked really well. Though... In the end I took it outside and disc sanded it. Messy but faster.
    Last edited by Roderick Gentry; 09-21-2022 at 10:21 AM.

  5. #5
    LV used to sell a long handle scraper, and WB sells one today. The LV one was great, about 14 inches long, cast iron, cheap. Probably Kuntz. But all it was was a long thing with a 2 inch square scraper blade about 1/8 inch thick. The ones I see for sale now have three surfaces which is one more than on my square model. But they looks like they might bite one if one got careless.

    A useful tool that got a lot of plaudits when it was first introduced was those vibratory saws/scrapers. They will do things nothing else will get at. Might be the best for getting into corners. I own one that cost about 40 bucks, but the one that got the high recommendations was the original fein oscilating saw, for it's ability to get into corners and coves. I sometimes use my cheapo with the saw blade to act as a precision scraper.

    In desperation one tries a bit of everything. I will use a chisel, surform, micro plane, and cheapest of all a hacksaw blade. This article shows how the Gougeons came up with a hacksaw fairing tool that they sandwich in wood. I just grab some dollar store blades and hold them in my hands. You can bend them and get a loop into tight corners.

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