How to Scrape Paint from Soft Wood

What You'll Need
Sheet Plastic
Soapy water, solvent, or rubbing alcohol
Various scraping tools (see Step 2)
Sand paper or extra fine steel wool
Safety goggles
dust mask
Rubber gloves

Often the best way of scraping paint depends on the type of paint used and the degree of application. If a small localized area has been affected, rubbing alcohol applied with a Q tip can do wonders. For a larger area, applying a liquid to the wood, covering it with plastic to stop evaporation, and waiting about 10 minutes can remove many products.

Step 1 - Deciding On A Solvent

With many types of latex paint, a thorough dose of dish soap and water applied with elbow grease is a good place to start. If the paint is oil-based, a chemical stripping solvent can be purchased at most any hardware store. If the paint appears to be different colors or an unknown type, try rubbing alcohol first before progressing to a more stringent chemical solvent.

Step 2 - Assemble Scrapping Tools

With soft woods especially, it is important to have tools which allow for force to be applied without harming the wood. A plank of wood, a dough knife, rubber spatulas, kitchen and make-up sponges, cotton swabs, Q-tips, extra fine steel wool, or sandpaper all help. Industrial adhesive scrapers or sharp blades will only grove and cut the wood. Line tools up from largest coverage of removal to the smallest.

Step 3 - Establish the Location

If the piece of wood being stripped is mobile, disassemble it as much as possible and set up drop clothes in a well-ventilated area, preferably outside. Having a table to sit at can greatly help tedious removal in small areas by having the pieces at eye level and reducing back strain from stooping.

If the location cannot be moved, open as many doors and windows as possible and set up circulating fans if needed. Often, even with a mask, solvents are fumed heavily and inhalation is dangerous.

Step 4 - Pour the Solvent

Wearing the proper safety equipment is a must when using harsh chemicals or dealing with paint which could contain lead. A dust mask, safety goggles, rubber gloves, and clothing which covers the skin must be worn at all times. Newer solvents are alkaline-based and have low volatile organic compounds, but are still caustic. Apply the water/solvent/rubbing alcohol liberally.

Step 5 - Cover and Let Sit

Cover the area with a large sheet of plastic to minimize evaporation and let it sit for 10 minutes minimum (or as directed on solvent). Penetration of the solvent is of greater importance with soft woods due to pigments soaking into the resin of the wood. As work is done with the wood, only peel up plastic over the portion directly being worked on.

Step 6 - Scrape in Layers

Using a 30-degree angle, begin with the block of wood and scrape off the top layers of paint. A dough knife works wonders as well. Next, use a rubber spatula to scape as much as possible. Work down the line of tools from large coverage to tiny cracks and ending with the sandpaper. If troublesome patches arise or extra layers of paint are found, apply solvent again and repeat.