Written by Lee Wyatt (last updated May 29, 2020)
When beginning any wood working restoration project then testing for oil or water based finishes should one of the first things that you do. The reason for this is that each kind of finish or paint will require a different method for removal. If you try to use the wrong kind of removal method, while you may not actually ruin the wood, you can at the very least ruin the effect that you are going for. This doesn't even mention the fact that you will end up wasting all kinds of time by using the wrong kind of removal method.
Here are a few simple tests that you can use to help determine whether you have a water based, or an oil based finish. Each of these methods are things that you should be able to do with the materials that you already have in the house. If you don't have these materials in your home already, then a quick trip to your local department store will quickly get you back on track.
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