I’m using my Remington 700 as kind of a test bed for a larger project, refinishing a desk my father built back in the 1960s. In the process of getting the rifle stock stripped of its old varnish, I tried two different products.
The first was some very strong solvent stripper called Bix. I originally bought it to strip the paint from my old Vespa, and it did what I thought was a rather lackluster job. On the rifle stock It softened up the old finish enough that I could scrape it off with a metal edged scraper, but never would get it dissolved enough to use a plastic scraper or a scrubber like the can claimed. It’s also some pretty nasty smelling stuff, not to mention probably flammable as hell. It never did get the varnish out of the factory impressed checkering, even after repeated applications and a lot of scrubbing.
On a trip to Lowe’s I picked up a small jug of CitriStrip. It’s a citrus oil based stripper, biodegradable, with no strong odor. It smells a little citrusy, but from more than 5 or 6 feet away you can’t even tell it’s in use. The stuff strips paint like mad — far better and faster than Bix. It got all the varnish out of the checkering, and the second time I had to use it, it took off a coat of linseed oil like it was never there. I didn’t have to scrape, just used a scrub brush and warm water. It’s water soluble, more so than the Bix, and rinsed cleanly off of the scrub brushes I was using. It ain’t soda pop, but it’s not nearly as nasty to use as Bix, and seems to work a lot better.
I can highly recommend Citristrip. It’s good stuff.