Stripping old finish from furniture is not, I'll have to confess, one of my favorite jobs. Still, it's a necessary task that has been simplified by a new product from 3M, once upon a time known as Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing and famous for Scotch tape.
The St. Paul, Minn.-based firm is well known in the building trades for its products, but until recently it hasn't lavished much attention on the do-it-yourselfer. This is no longer the case, as 3M--like many other progressive firms--is now attractively packaging products for non-professionals.
Non-woven stripping pads from 3M pick up chemical removers from the stripping process without leaving residue. The pads can be washed for further use and--unlike steel wool--they won't rust or gum up to scratch the wood.
Along with several other manufacturers, 3M makes flexible sanding sponges and flap sanders for electric drills. The sanding sponge conforms to curves and depressions in the furniture to root out the last traces of old finish. The flap sander, if used carefully, speeds the removal process without damaging the wood.