I know everyone goes about stripping pieces a little differently and sometimes there will be a piece that needs a little extra work, but 90% of the time, this is the process I use.
in my bag….
Using the chippy brush above, I pour on a layer of stripper, spread evenly and let sit. Not the cheapest product but Jasco is what I use.
Sometimes I need to do 2 layers of stripper.
After the correct amount of time (15-30 min), I use my metal scrapper to pile it all in the middle.
I know you shouldn't use metal but it work best for me and I am careful not to gouge or dig.
Plastic scrappers are for sissies. I'm kidding, you can use your plastic scrapper:)
I then discard into an empty paint can.
I keep a LOT of these rags around. I rip them into small pieces because I go through them quickly.
I do not like to use a soft cotton t-shirt type clothes because they do not pick up the stripper as well, but these 'nubby' rags work great.
This Pampered Chef tool didn't see much action in the kitchen but I use it ALL THE TIME while stripping furniture. This is were I can really get in there without fear of scratching the wood.
I had one of the kids bathtub toys for years before this guy came along. Sometimes the strangest items just seem to work well.
This brush is also VERY handy for getting into grooves.
Another tip... if you have some very detailed carvings, let it sit for hours, even until stripper dries then brush it out with this. Of course you do not want to use a wire brush or anything too harsh, but a stiff brush works great!
I do like to use steel wool for fine cleaning but they tend to get too gunky if there is too much stripper remaining, so use them sometimes for fine cleaning before I sand.
Sometimes I use a rotary sander and sometimes I don't, it's about 50/50. I test it first and if marks are being left, I STOP and go to hand sanding. I have NO IDEA why sometimes I can get away with using it and other times it doesn't work out. But I do know that if I am able to use it, I will use a higher grit paper, in this case it was a 180.
I always like to finish the piece off with a finish sander using a very fine grit paper. This really makes a the piece extra smooth. Also, if you do have any swirls, this should help take care of them.