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Thread: Remove finish / refinish workbench top - need recommendations

  1. #1
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    Default Remove finish / refinish workbench top - need recommendations

    I have a workbench top - 2 pieces of plywood glued together to make a 2' x 8' top - it was initially finished with satin finish polyurethane, then waxed with 'Butchers wax' - I am seeking the best, most dust-free way to remove the finish, and start to apply fresh polyurethane without contaminating the surface with any wax residue. Any and all suggestions are appreciated.



    Rick

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Remove finish / refinish workbench top - need recommendations

    Why does it need to be refinished at all?
    “Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of those rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs."

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Remove finish / refinish workbench top - need recommendations

    ^ Excellent question - I used to work in computer repair - where everything had to be 'perfect' - Patina / nicks and dents are a new world to me - As you rightly guessed from 'satin polyurethane AND ... wax.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Remove finish / refinish workbench top - need recommendations

    Quote Originally Posted by rbgarr View Post
    Why does it need to be refinished at all?
    And some would ask why it needs to be finished at all.

    Don't bother. Unless there's some functional reason, let her wear her scars proudly.

    And I'd NEVER put wax on a workbench. I want that surface to be a bit grippy without having to reach for a grip-mat.

    If you're bored, or need some chores... I've got a list you could come help with <G>
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    https://www.facebook.com/HarborWoodworks/

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Remove finish / refinish workbench top - need recommendations

    I agree with David here. But, to answer your question.... Use a scraper to remove the existing finish. I'd use what most call a card scraper. That will produce mostly shavings. Unless the wax is fairly fresh, it's probably oxidized enough to not cause you any contamination issues. If there is continued concern, finish the top with shellac as an intermediate coating. Then the poly or varnish of your choice.

    My bench is also plywood but topped with 1/8" tempered hardboard as a working surface. I used hardboard so that I could replace it as needed. The bench is about 20 years old and has never been "refinished." The hardboard is original. It all wears its patina with pride.

    Jeff

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Remove finish / refinish workbench top - need recommendations

    Pop over to Home Despot and pick up an 8’ section of butcher lock countertop for about $200. It’ll outlast you and you won’t need to ever refinish it.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Remove finish / refinish workbench top - need recommendations

    Dust free surface removal,? a veneer scraper or even better, take some old glass panes or off cuts, 2mm or 3mm cut them into 80mm or so wide strips, do it free hand so there's some variation, or with a straight edge if you want dead straight pieces . cut the strips into 150 mm pieces, and use them like you would a veneer scraper. you can create a pile in minutes , you pick the curve of the piece to suit the job, and the moment they lose their edge bin them and pick up another piece. also makes a good stock of glass to mix two-parts on for small repairs. WEar leather gloves, the pieces will sometimes break in your hands.
    If my eyes don't deceive me, there's something going on around here

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Remove finish / refinish workbench top - need recommendations

    I wouldn't wax a bench.Just too much chance of some of the wax making it's way onto a surface that I might be gluing to something that I would like it to stay attached to.If I need to do something messy,it isn't a big deal to spread out a few pages of newspaper on the bench.Any stray glue or resin spatters should sand off easily enough.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Remove finish / refinish workbench top - need recommendations

    I'll echo what Jeff said but add that I use 1/4" Masonite, it is thick enough to countersink drywall screws. Back when I was running a scene shop we covered our worktables with Masonite, every couple of years it would need replacing but we used those tables to weld on so they got scorched more than anything.
    Steve

    If you would have a good boat, be a good guy when you build her - honest, careful, patient, strong.
    H.A. Calahan

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Remove finish / refinish workbench top - need recommendations

    Back in the before times when lumber was priced like lumber, I picked through stacks of 2x6 studs for good boards with at least one clear edge, and laminated them into an 8' bench top the thickness of a 2x6, and about 2' wide. I planed it flat and finished it with shellac. Promising to simply plane down to a fresh surface again if it ever got too awful for me.

    20 years later ... the shellac has aged nicely.
    If I use the word "God," I sure don't mean an old man in the sky who just loves the occasional goat sacrifice. - Anne Lamott

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Remove finish / refinish workbench top - need recommendations

    Thanks for all the helpful suggestions above. . . If / when I decide to add another coat of finish on the bench , I will probably do a light scrape and another coat of poly . David G., I ' d like to help with your list of things to do - but my 'honey-do' list by itself resembles the Encyclopedia Brittanica, and right now my 'part-time job' is netting out 35 to 52 hours per week. Perhaps I'm just too busy to worry about that workbench top right now ??



    Rick (closing this thread)

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