Prepare the Work Area
Over time, the original clear finish on an antique can become worn, damaged or discolored (Image 1). Paint finishes may crack, chip or peel. Restoration usually requires removing the damaged finish--stripping the piece down to the bare wood.
Since stripping is messy, it's best to work outdoors. A garage or basement, with proper ventilation (Image 2), is an alternate choice. Work a safe distance from walls, furniture, etc., to prevent damage from spills. Spread a heavy drop cloth to protect the floor, then cover the drop cloth with several layers of newspaper to absorb chemicals and dissolved finish. If you're working indoors, open all doors and windows, and if possible, use a fan to improve ventilation, as stripping chemicals give off fumes.