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Finishes enhance the color and grain of a wood. It makes the surface smooth and pleasing to the eye. But, if a surface has a damaged area, stripping is the best choice. It is a way to remove the finish and start from scratch. Before you do anything, clean the damaged area thoroughly. You might find the area you thought was damaged, had wax or something on it. If that's not the case, proceed with stripping. Follow these steps, and your wood will be back to its original surface, ready to select another sealant or finish.
Strippers come in two different types: water-based or chemical. The chemical types contain methylene chloride. They work very well, and very quickly, but are hazardous, so you must be very careful. But, they work in about 15 minutes. Water-based strippers are much safer, but they take much longer. They also raise the grain, so you will definitely have to re-sand your wood.
For either type, follow the steps on the label, then apply the stripper.

1. Apply the stripper by pouring on a heavy coat. Then, take a brush and work it into the grain.
2. Then, take a metal putty knife and scrape off the finish. Run the knife along the grain of the wood, and scrape the finish off into a rag or newspaper, disposing of them when you are done.
3. If you are working on a small detailed area, use a small pad or a small brush. Find something that will get into the narrow areas, and pull out the finish.
4. For very difficult finish, you can also use a heat gun. This will heat the stripper into the finish and lift the finish up. Only use this on very tough cases, the gun is difficult to use, and could burn your fingers if they are too close.
Once you remove the finish, you are ready to sand your work, and start over.