Monday, January 30, 2012

First Time Stripping (Furniture) - Part 1

Let me start off by saying - if you don't have an entire weekend to tackle your first furniture stripping, try to go one piece at a time. Or buy a power sander. I bought this desk at a garage sale for $3. A wise choice, I felt at the time. I immediately thought: I can fix this up really nice! But isn't that what we always think when we see something at a garage sale that isn't quite perfect? I feel like I say that to myself a lot. And my husband probably thinks "Yeah, right!"

I've been longing to find a nice piece of furniture to re-finish all by myself. I'm no carpenter, but I do love to paint things. I probably paint too many things. see previous posts.  (notice the lamp? yeah, that's a project in limbo.)

Not only did I purchase this desk with intent to maximize it's hidden beauty, I also had a REAL reason for getting it. I need a new computer desk. One that has drawers. So this project is great in many dimensions!
Upon taking a closer look, I saw there were many layers of paint there, the chips in it were really deep nicks and gouges, so I decided to strip.  Which immediately scared the heck out of me. I had never stripped furniture before, so I scoured blogs and websites looking for the secrets of removing paint.  Then I made a discovery: there are no secrets. Just elbow grease.

So the first thing I did was take off all of the hardware, and take out the drawers.  Since I had no idea how long it would really take, I decided to take on only the drawers first.

I went to Lowe's earlier in the week to pick up the supplies I would need. These I found on a few blogs.  Several people suggested a stripper that I could not find, so I bought this Crown Tuff-Strip - 2 cans.  I should have bought 3.  The gloves and drop cloth were suggested on the can, and every blog I read.  The scrapers are basically a necessity, I used the narrow one more - it was easier to maneuver.  I never ended up using the brush.  I also got a very coarse scouring pad, but I would get steel wool next time.  and goggles.  (I also used wood putty, sandpaper and an electric sander before the desk was all done.)

Let me warn you now. This stuff is no joke.  Once while spraying, the wind moved in a different direction and a tiny mist of this went on my bare arm.  I knew immediately.  It felt like muratic acid burning my skin. I ran inside and washed off thoroughly.  Be VERY careful.  It's also not kidding when it says 10 minutes or less.

So I laid the drop cloth out, rocks holding it down. got my gloves on and sprayed these beauties.  I coated them moderately heavy and as even as I could with the stripper, making sure the wind wasn't whipping it in my direction.

In 3 minutes, I came to check on them. Paint was already bubbling up!

I started scraping, and scraped and scraped.  This stuff is amazing wherever it goes on heavy, but so-so where it goes on light.  Of course you can see the layers and layers of paint I had to get through. I scraped all of them down, and decided to spray them again.  The hardest part was the beveled edges. Scraping a straight knife on a curved edge will make you a little nuts.  Consider the nooks and crannys of a piece before you decide to strip.

After the 3rd time, it nearly all came off.  Good enough for me! 

I sanded with a coarse grit sandpaper block I already had, and filled in the hardware holes with wood putty.

The next morning, I sanded again with a finer paper, and now the drawers are ready to prime!

Check out the rest of the desk, coming soon in Part 2!