View Full Version : Removing old finish

Vespa Bob
11-30-2014, 04:47 AM
Before attempting to remove the existing finish from a ukulele, I'd like to hear from the more experienced the best method of doing this. I'm inclined to just sand it off, but I have read that some people use paint remover. This sounds like it could be a messy approach. What should I do?


11-30-2014, 05:31 AM
Try to enjoy your uke the way it is.

If you can't, remember that the bridge and neck have to be removed to do a respectable refinish job. Stripping finish is a messy job, but at least the mess stays in one place. Sanding makes a mess that goes everywhere. You also run the risk of sanding the fragile uke wood to a dangerous thinness.

11-30-2014, 06:54 AM
I've only used this method on tool handles for refurbished tools, but it should work on ukuleles.

As an alternative to sanding and chemical removers on small projects try using single edge razor blades as scrapers. The blade corners get rounded over before starting. This works especially well on finishes that are cracked and peeling. Leaves a smooth surface, but does not get down in the pores. I have a razor knife that will hold a blade at 90 degrees to the handle.

Just a thought and please feel free to say it is a horrible idea.

Vespa Bob
11-30-2014, 07:30 AM
I guess I should have explained, but I didn't want to bore you with the details:) I have just replaced the top on this uke after removing the piece of fretboard that extends over the top, so there is no bridge to be concerned about either. I now wish to completely refinish the instrument as I wasn't completely satisfied with the original job I did. I like the idea of using a scraper over sandpaper. I think I'll do it that way.

11-30-2014, 07:34 AM
+1 for the scraper idea. Worked well for me.

Vespa Bob
11-30-2014, 08:56 AM
Thanks for the replies, scraper it is!

11-30-2014, 04:08 PM
Bob, you never said what kind of wood or finish you are working with. This makes a difference. I've stripped a lot of furniture in my life and don't like scrapping. Can damage things in a hurry. Stripping actually looks messier than it really is (all that gloop). Now I wouldn't necessarily use naval jelly or some of the more caustic agents out there on an instrument, but there are gentler ways. Try using the solvent that was your medium. For instance, I touched one of my water based finishes the other day with denatured alcohol out of curiosity to see just what would happen. The effect was INSTANTANEOUS happening in a 100th of second and marred the finish. Why did I do this? I don't know. I like to think I am experimenting, but sometimes it is just because I did a dumb thing. "Hey I wonder what would happen if I put a match to this...(Karump!)... Whoa! This is how we learn.