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TIP: Hot Lye Stripping Is a Job for Professionals

Jun 30, 2016 | Expert's Corner | 0 comments

A common method used for stripping furniture in many professional refinishing and stripping shops is to dip the furniture into a tub full of hot water and lye. This method is relatively inexpensive (compared to using solvents) and very effective. It’s also compliant with many health and VOC regulations that make it difficult to use solvents, especially the most effective solvent, methylene chloride.

But you should be aware that old animal hide glue, used on almost all furniture made before the 1950s, dissolves in hot water, and will also dissolve in cold alkaline (lye) water if left in contact for an extended time. The dissolving will cause veneer to peel and joints to loosen.

It would be wise, therefore, if you take your furniture to a professional stripping/refinishing shop, to be sure the shop owner is familiar with this potential problem.