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  • Stripping old finish

    I was just wondering if anybody knows what chemicals are used to strip old finish off of pipes before a new finish can be applied, and if there are different kinds of finish to consider before picking a remover.

  • #2
    Is this the flaking lacquer finish that a number of pipe makers used to use? There are safe lacquer thinners (NOT paint thinners) that work well. That said, we have many experts on this site who will have specific product recommendations that you can trust.

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    • #3
      Like Michael, I'll defer to others for the correct solvents, but whichever you pick, do a test in an inconspicuous area before slathering your pipes.

      Andrew
      Andrew T. Lenz, Jr. BDF Moderator
      BagpipeJourney.com - Reference for Bagpipers

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      • #4
        I’ve done several sets of abw pipes....plain ol’ paint stripper works fine...apply with a brush...allow it to work...scrub away ,..e.g. out of combing..with a toothbrush. Wipe the wood down with mineral spirits before refinishing. I use gloss spar varnish..3 coats using a quality sable brush...~1/2” width. Initial coat thinned ~50% as a ‘primer’..next coat thinned ~15%..final coat straight from the can. I keep the can in a pot of heated water to keep the varnish toasty. Between coats I use fine steel wool to break the gloss before the next coat. Again,..brush combing well with a toothbrush. Important to try to do this in a low Rh environment...~40%. Allow 2 days drying between coats.
        The pipes I’ve done came away with a very durable glossy finish that survived many many years of usual wear.

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        • #5
          I stripped mine years ago with lacquer thinner, a toothbrush, and some elbow grease. I did not put a new finish on; just wipe them down with almond oil once in a while and they look great.

          This is an outdoor activity. Lacquer fumes are toxic and extraordinarily flammable. Even a small explosion can ruin your whole day.
          Michigan Scottish Pipes and Drums
          www.michiganscottish.org

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Jon Snow View Post
            This is an outdoor activity. Lacquer fumes are toxic and extraordinarily flammable. Even a small explosion can ruin your whole day.
            Whew! I get it now...you mean while refinishing. For a moment, I had visions of lacquered pipes exploding while playing!

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            • #7
              Originally posted by EquusRacer View Post

              Whew! I get it now...you mean while refinishing. For a moment, I had visions of lacquered pipes exploding while playing!
              LOL, I actually meant while using the lacquer thinner to strip the finish. But it's the same fumes whether stripping or applying.
              Michigan Scottish Pipes and Drums
              www.michiganscottish.org

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              • #8
                I’ve refinished quit a few sets stripping them with stripper, cleaning the combing thoroughly with a toothbrush. Submerging the parts in linseed oil for a couple of days. Letting them drip dry for a week or so. Giving each piece a thorough brushing/cleaning of the bores. I put each piece on the lathe and polish them with a friction polish while turning on the lathe. I put on four coats. They turn out a satin/flat finish. This process has worked well for me.

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                • #9
                  Just picked up on this..... Most really old pipes were finished with Shellac based french polish. if it is thick it may chip and craze. puting it in a lathe and rubbing it with a cotton rag with some alcohol will smooth it out and if you keep repeating it will remove it all eventually.
                  Slow process though.
                  It's not knowing the answers that is important.....It's knowing where to find the answers......

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                  • #10
                    I once chose to refinish a set of older pipes that had a shellac finish.
                    Bad idea, and once started I had to finish.
                    Took ages to pry it out of every nook and cranny with the correct solvent and hand tools.
                    I'll not try that again.
                    I suppose with a lathe it might have been easier, but that stuff is stubborn...

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                    • #11
                      Just a thought, but I used a brass wire brush when I did this years ago. About toothbrush size. Or a suede brush similar I think. And a needle to get everything out of the combing... Took days, and then I mucked up the refinish and had to send them off to someone who knew what they were doing. But I don't like the spirit lacquer he used, I prefer the oiled or waxed look. I've heard Danish Oil is sometimes used?

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Bram View Post
                        I've heard Danish Oil is sometimes used?
                        I agree with you about preferring oil or wax finishes. Danish oil, however, is a different creature (and has a variable formula, depending upon manufacturer). It's a hard finish, although linseed oil is part of it. It can be a very nice finish on some furniture. I would never use it on pipes.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by EquusRacer View Post

                          I agree with you about preferring oil or wax finishes. Danish oil, however, is a different creature (and has a variable formula, depending upon manufacturer). It's a hard finish, although linseed oil is part of it. It can be a very nice finish on some furniture. I would never use it on pipes.
                          Interesting, I've used Danish Oil on other wood and I like the finish, but it does penetrate and then you're stuck with it. Not sure whether it would do that to blackwood. Wax sounds safer. I've hand applied Howard's carnuba/beeswax paste to my ebony Starcks. Not as good as carnuba on a lathe, but still nice. I read somewhere on this forum that a certain leading pipe maker uses Danish Oil. I won't repeat the name on case that's wrong. Someone else may know for sure.

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                          • #14
                            I turn the pieces on my lathe using friction polish. Works to a lovely finish.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Graypiper View Post
                              I turn the pieces on my lathe using friction polish. Works to a lovely finish.
                              I tried that, but the bag and the other drones were flying all over the place, crashing into me and the bench. It was ugly!

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