Ode to Formby’s


November 29, 2012 by twinoaksstudio


I am starting to see the end of my long adventure refinishing a pair of antique dressers.  Its so exciting!    I’ve started collecting ideas for distressed-looking hardware for it.  Furniture Bling!

I would never have gotten to where I am with these pieces without the help of an amazing varnish stripper called Formby’s Furniture Refinisher.   It is specialized to use only with antique varnishes and takes off the outer layer of candy-apple like “goo” while preserving the original finish.   I have tested out earth-friendly strippers and the more serious chemical strippers, but they both tend to merge with the antique varnish to form an impossible to remove rock-hard layer.  (Gak!)  The amazing part of Formby’s is that it dissolves the antique varnish so easily and quickly.   The original stain is left ready to top-coat.   I really love it.  (can you tell?)

Here is a little video of Formby’s in action.   Please note:  in this video I am both videotographer and restorer, so there is a little bit of shakiness going on!   But it gives you an idea of how easily it works.   I apply it using “0000” grade steel wool, rubbing in circular motions, and wipe it off using paper towels.   Its a little drippy and messy, but aside from that, its pretty easy!

The pieces I’m working on are roughly 100 years old hard maple with amazing characteristics – iridescent whorls and birds-eyes.  I wanted to show off the natural beauty of the wood, not hide it under a darker stain or paint.   The finished product will be going into a cabin and my goal is a somewhat rustic look, so many imperfections in the pieces are going to be kept.

I’m still not done just yet – I’m waiting for my stain-boiled linseed oil layer to cure a little first before I topcoat it.   Its been a long (and educational!) process but in the end I hope it will be worth it!

— Pauline

PS – I received no compensation from Formby’s for this post.   Just hoping to help out others interested in preserving beautiful old furniture!

I will be linking this post up with Miss Mustardseed’s Furniture Feature Friday.   Thanks for hosting!!

6 thoughts on “Ode to Formby’s

  1. Rachel says:

    I LOVE Formbys too….have used it many times! The drawers on your piece are gorgeous…can’t wait to see the finished product!!!

  2. […] me with the decision to strip, sand and refinish.    What a learning experience that was!    Please read my earlier post about an amazing varnish stripper I discovered, Formby’s, if you a…   It was such a huge help in this […]

  3. Vicki says:

    I just wondered if this Formbys stripper can only be used on antique varnishes. I have a dresser that is probably from the 40’s and love the lines of it. I have no idea if it is real wood under the varnish/stain. I was going to paint it, but think it would look good with a stain.

    • If its from the 1940s I bet it is real wood, although it could be a veneer – but many veneers are still really amazing pieces of wood! I have never used Formby’s on something from the 1940s before but took a look at their website – and what they recommend is below.
      The type of remover you need to use depends on what type of finish is on the piece and they have a little test you can do on an inconspicuous part of the piece to help determine that. I do love 1940s pieces. They have such classic lines!! Good Luck and thanks for the feedback!

      From http://www.formbys.com/tips/cotton_ball/
      There’s an easy way to tell whether an old finish is going to need Formby’s® Furniture Refinisher or Formby’s® Paint & Poly Remover.

      1) Dampen a cotton ball with acetone-based nail polish remover.
      2) Choose an inconspicuous test spot and dab it with the cotton.

      If the cotton sticks or the finish softens, it’s varnish, lacquer or shellac. Use Formby’s® Furniture Refinisher.

      If there is no effect, it’s a polyurethane finish. Use Formby’s® Paint & Poly Remover.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Follow me on Pinterest

Follow Me on Pinterest

Enter your email address to follow my blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Thanks!

%d bloggers like this: