As we were wrapping up our first few trial pieces, we wanted something a little more creative. I found this old sewing table for $5 on craigslist and we purchased it. There was no machine in the table, but we loved the little drawers and the piece was clearly made of solid wood that we could work with.
This was the first piece we tried using a chemical stripper on to remove old paint and varnish. We tried using the stripper that comes with a little spray bottle that you fill up and spray on the piece. We learned the hard way that getting any of this on your skin literally starts burning through the layers and is quite painful.
We bought big heavy duty gloves to do the stripping, but even these aren’t perfect at keeping the burn away, so it’s best to just avoid touching the stripper liquid. Using lots of old rags and plastic scraping tools got the varnish off, and using steel wool to get in crevices finished the varnish removal.
After stripping, we sanded the whole piece down. We used special walnut stain to do the flat parts, legs, and drawers, and an off white paint for the side of the body. We sealed the painted parts with water-based polyurethane and lacquer to seal the stained parts. At this point, lacquer was the first sealer we tried over stained wood. It dries a bit quicker than oil-based polyurethane so you have to work fast with it, but it gives a nice luster and a smooth finish.