Thursday, 23 May 2013

I'm a terrible stripper.

Despite the valiant efforts to raise me right, I've become a stripper.  Good news though - I'm terrible at it.

I wasn't currently using this dresser that used to be in Vivian's room, so I thought I would try my hand at stripping the paint.  

I was watching some show on HGTV a few months ago and they were stripping paint off of old trim and the host said, "Once you've stripped paint, you'll never want to paint wood again."

Truer words have never been spoken.

It's partially my fault - I picked the completely wrong piece of furniture to try this on for the first time.  I've painted this dresser four times.  And it was painted when I bought it.  Once I started trying to strip it, it quickly became apparent that there were many, many more coats of paint on there than I originally thought.  So this is really more of an experiment - I may very well end up deciding to paint it again, we'll see.

So here's what not to do when stripping furniture.

Initially it seemed easy.  Pour on the stuff, wait for it to bubble up, scrape it off.  Now, the can says to wait 20 minutes.  But I'm a picker - so as soon as I saw it starting to bubble, I wanted to scrape it off right away. Therein was my first mistake.  I quickly learned that when the can says 20 minutes, it really means like 40 minutes for this piece of furniture.  And even then the results weren't pretty.

Bubble bubble.

Here's the pile of stripped off paint that's been hanging around in my basement for the last month or so.  Of course I haven't bothered to clean it up at all.

Here's the side of one of the drawers.  This must have been painted white several times, because it takes a lot to get through that white.  This is also an old dresser, and it's possible that some of that paint is 30 or 40 years old, which is even more awesome.

It's so tempting - I literally have to walk away, go in the house, and find something else to do to keep myself from scraping it off immediately.  You can see how easily the top layers come off, this is after just a couple of minutes.

What made it go a bit easier was cluing in to using this Mastercraft multi-tool I have. (It's similar to that one, but not exactly.  Mine has a power cord, so it wasn't nearly as expensive as that one) It has a special attachment for scraping which really helped move things along.  I can't use it for too long though, or else it starts to hurt my wrists.  It's a pretty handy-dandy little tool though!

 Here's the same area as the top picture of this post after I'd scraped it.  You can see how hard that paint clings!  This was after letting it sit for about 30 minutes.


On the drawers I even discovered that there seems to have been some old decals hidden under there.  It's hard to tell in this picture, but those two blobby areas that don't have paint on them have traces of little bears.

 So yeah.  The entire dresser looks like this right now.  Some wood, some paint, a whole lot of mess.  I'm pretty tired of using the stripper stuff.  I've tried the gel (that claims to stick to vertical surfaces, but that's a damn lie) and the spray (the nozzle jammed after using half of the can) and this is as far as I've gotten after spending like $60 to do so.  And I keep burning myself with it, which is probably my own fault since I keep going out and doing this barefoot and in shorts and forgetting to put my gloves on.  I'm going to try sanding it down next and see how far it gets me.  I can tell this was never a super nice dresser to start with, so I'm not expecting it to end up being any kind of family heirloom or anything, it's really just a learning experience.  I would really like to try stripping something else - maybe something with only a couple of coats of paint though.

Any suggestions?  I keep thinking that maybe even if I could get the body of the dresser down to the wood and just repaint the drawer fronts or something, that might be a good compromise to save my sanity.

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