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on February 2, 2014
Have been using this product for about 30 years and it is great for light refinishing projects.Often times with older furniture people do not want to lose the patina that years of living with them has accumulated. It might be a ring left from a former loved-one's coffee cup or a cigarette burn. I know it sounds funny but people really do request to leave damage that would normally be sanded or wood-bleached out. And sending a piece to the strippers will lift the grain so much that you have to do a light fine sand to get it to lay back down; diminishing patina even more. But using this product with a fine steel wool will produce a finish that makes a piece that someone wants to keep the majority of the character in happy. Great for keeping old furniture looking old but very well taken care of. Just my opinion! Would recommend to someone who understands how to use it.
UPDATED: 5/21/14:I wrote a review about this product before using the latest version. It is no more than lacquer thinner now!!! I used to buy this before I got into professional furniture finishing about 25 years ago. This product did have a substantial oil base to it that would take off the finish and distribute the stain in the wood so as to lightly refinish a product without having to do a full-on restoration; leaving a nice and even patina! If you want what this product does then simply get a gallon of lacquer thinner and steel wool to you choosing and do small areas at a time so the thinner does not dry before you wipe the wet surface of finish. I apologize to anyone who purchased this product due to a review I left. In the future I will use the product before leaving a review and not just assume that it is the same as it was. I know for a fact that the product is not what it used to be due to the fact that it would not evaporate quickly like it does now. It also smells like lacquer thinner or toluene; where I remember it never did years ago. Once again, sorry for any ill-advice!!!!!
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on May 22, 2011
I've used this several times and it works! You have to follow the directions and you'll use a lot of it to do the job correctly. You need to keep the surface wet and wipe it immediatly. Yes, it'll take off the entire finish if you are not careful but use formby's tung oil and your project will turn out great. And you need good ventilation and orange stripper gloves and a small open pan to hold the liquid.
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on June 5, 2013
It's somewhere inbetween paint stripper and thinner and works as long as you work it properly. The more I use it the more I like it. A previous poster was right on: rub the surface wet, then wipe it off. Rub wet, wipe dry. One small area after the next. You must remove that top old finish while it is liquidy and removable. The key is to work it in long enough for it to dissolve but not too long or it will get too dry to properly wipe. With practice you will see the bad old coat being removed and know the point to wipe it off. Go over an area more than once if need be. It's actually easy because this stuff does dissolve and in quick order but you can use a lot. I strongly suggest not to rub too hard with the steal wool, let the solution do the job. I put a roll of paper towels right next to me with one always in hand. Be prepared for some mess and strong fumes so don't do it inside.
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on November 21, 2012
This was recommended as the company is now owned by Min-Wax, who make the only stains I use. I used it on an old desk build in 1905. It definetly stripped the old finish coat off and did a pretty good job on the underlying stain. Using the steel wool method requires a bit of elbow grease, but you can work at your own pace, quit and come back and start where you left off. I also used some old soft cloths soaked in the solution to help remove all the surface material along with the steel wool. It will take more then you thought you might use, but it did not damage the underlying wood at all, which, with this old piece of furniture, was important to me.

Recommend this or the new version (same formula) by Min-Wax for your old antiques with varnish or shellac as the finish.
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on September 12, 2012
This product does what it says it will do. It takes off old varnish but leaves stain finish.
You have to use this with lots of steel wool pads. Kinda messy, use correct gloves for project.
I didn't and ate thru the latex. The odor from this product is very strong. Use outdoors,
with lots of air circulating. Kinda hurt my lungs after, DO use a mask.
I found product affected my head and lungs so I won't use it again.
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on November 25, 2011
I just received a 100+-year-old dresser from my mother's estate, and needless to say, it was pretty shabby. My wookworking neighbor used this product to strip off the old crud and then he refinished it: it looks brand new. He swears Formsbys is the only product to use for this purpose, and apparently he is right.
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on January 21, 2010
You know what I think? I think this is simply some type of lacquer thinner. It softens the finish, and then you are to wipe clean with a rag (dampened in the stuff). You are instructed to rinse the rag if it becomes dirty.........which is immediately. And then the rinse solution is dirty........which means without another clean rag and more clean solution, you aren't going to remove much more softened finish. The whole process reminded of something very similar so I ran an experiment.

I grabbed a can of lacquer thinner and used it in the same manner............same result.
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on March 14, 2014
I've used Formbys before to remove the usual furniture stains and varnishes, and it always worked wonderfully. This time my project was a picnic table of 2" plank that was stained several years ago and kept outside. The original stain had penetrated the woodgrain unevenly.
Formbys helped lift out most of the old stain, but not quite all, especially near the knotholes in the planks. Repeated treatments with Formbys in these knothole areas also raised the grain somewhat, which was easily corrected with light sanding. So using Formbys in this situation was not a complete solution, but it did greatly reduce the amount of sanding that was required.
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on August 12, 2014
I started with an antique sideboard about 5 feet long and 2 feet deep- has 2 cabinets with doors and 2 drawers with tortoise-shell veneer and lined with velvet; top drawer has the original wooden pull-out dividers for silverware. Lots of detail in the legs and scrollwork and the thing was almost black in appearance; in fact you could not see the tortoise-shell veneer in the beginning. I bought six 32 oz containers and the 16 pk of 4/0 steelwool and started to work on it one morning about 6am and was finished with the dirty work by noon. When my husband got home at 2pm I had already rubbed it down with orange oil and bees wax and it is now the color of honey. He could not believe it was the same piece until he saw the mess outside that I had not cleaned up. I have used this product for years and always been proud of the results, which make me appear to be an expert refinisher. Its messy but the results are lovely and you avoid loosing precious detail in the wood that sanding can cause.
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on July 8, 2015
I've used this product for years where I don't want to totally strip or sand. There are four levels of restoration that I will do on quality, old furniture: 1. Clean and maybe wax. 2. Use Howard's Restore a Finish 3. Use Formby's Refinisher. 4. Strip, sand and refinish. I always try to use the lowest level possible to try and keep antiques close to the original state. Sometimes touching up with color pens and waxing gives the best results, but I would always try this Refinisher before sanding if there is no significant damage to repair
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