The Frugal Café | Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup"</a> | Creative Commons License,
Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup" | Creative Commons License,

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DIY Homemade Concoctions: Varnish Remover

By Vicki McClure Davidson


Making your own varnish remover is fairly easy, using ingredients you likely already have on hand.

Ingredients (to be mixed in two separate parts)

Part 1:

Part 2:

Mix the varnish remover concoction in a pail or container that is heat resistant because you will be using it to hold the hot water.

Bring the water to a boil, remove from the heat, and allow it to rest for 5 minutes before mixing the recipe. Make sure to boil enough to provide 4 full cups of hot water, add two cups first–mix–then add the other 2 cups, and mix again.


In a bowl, mix the cornstarch and 1/2 cup of cold water together, dump in the pail. Add the rest of the ingredients, mix everything very well.

Wearing rubber gloves, generously apply the hot varnish remover with a paint brush to the varnished area you want to strip. If it’s a large area or project you’re working with and the remover concoction temperature is no longer hot, reheat the homemade varnish remover. The job is much easier and the concoction works best when it's hot.

Allow the varnish remover to set and work a bit. Once the varnish starts lifting, scrub to remove the varnish from the wood with clean wet rags (make sure that they're hot).


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Source: TipNut website, (, November 15, 2007.