How to Remove Lacquer From Wood

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Things You'll Need

  • Gloves
  • Goggles
  • Dust mask
  • Steel wool
  • Lacquer thinner
  • Paint scraper
  • Paper towels

Lacquer is a protective layer of paint thinner and resins which prevent water from soaking deep inside the wood where it can cause it to buckle and warp. It also prevents stains and nicks from damaging the wood. Lacquer is especially shiny and is commonly used on decorative pieces such as wooden boxes and small pieces of wooden furniture. Remove lacquer when it gets old or if it begins to turn yellow.

Open the windows to ventilate the area, or work outside if possible.

Put on gloves, goggles and a dust mask to protect yourself from fumes.


Soak a piece of steel wool in lacquer thinner.

Rub the steel wool over the piece of wood. Rub in the same direction as the grain if possible. However, you may need to scrub against the grain occasionally to remove tough lacquer. Continue until all of the lacquer is gone. Use more lacquer thinner as needed.


Scrape the wood with a paint scraper to remove any excess lacquer thinner.


Wipe the wood with paper towels.


About the Author

Kaye Wagner has been working in the fields of journalism and public relations since 2006 and is a recipient of a National Hearst Award. She is particularly interested in home-and-garden projects, as well as beauty and fashion writing. An avid traveler, she also writes travel reviews and guides. Wagner earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Brigham Young University.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/ Images