Victorian Preservation Association - Not Just Victorians, But All Vintage Homes

Posts Tagged ‘paint stripping’

Stripping Paint from old Hardware

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

By Alex Cerul
Unless you are extraordinarily lucky the hinges, door plates, window latches and cabinet locks in your house have been painted over several times. They might not work anymore and are certainly not attractive. DO NOT THROW THEM OUT. It is not difficult to remove the paint and restore them. You will be amazed at how beautiful they are once you do this.
To remove them, first use a razor blade utility knife to score and cut through the paint where the item contacts the wood. If you do not, then when you remove the piece the paint will chip all around it and you will have to touch it up. If you carefully cut the outline of the item then you will be able to replace it after cleaning without any further work.
After scoring its contours you have to determine where the screws are. You can usually spot them by either an indentation or a raised bump but you may have to look at other items that are not so heavily painted or make your best guess. The old screws are always slotted (Standard) as opposed to Phillips and this is the good news because they are easier to clean out. Using the tip of your razor blade, clean out the entire slot of the screw. Do a thorough job here because if you leave some paint then your screwdriver cannot make contact with enough of the screw to undo it. If there is paint still in the groove then you risk stripping the screw and then the only way to get it out is to pry it and damage the wood. Take your time here – it is worth it.
When you have a good fit and grip for your screwdriver unscrew it counterclockwise. Push down firmly when you do this. It is a little counterintuitive to push down when you are trying to twist the screw up but this is necessary to keep the screwdriver firmly in the slot. Once all the screws are out, the piece should pop off if you wedge the razor blade behind it.
Stripping the piece is done by letting it soak in a strong solution of TSP and water and scraping, or brushing, the paint off in several sittings each a day apart. I use an old pot (with a lid so there is no evaporation) and roughly 1 part TSP (Tri Sodium Phosphate) to 5 parts water. Stir in the TSP until it dissolves. The pieces should be completely submerged and let them sit for at least a full day. You can shake or stir the pot when you pass by if you remember. Sometimes the paint will float right off but usually you have to scrape it. Do not use a razor here, or anything steel for that matter, because you do not want to scratch the piece. Scrapers made of plastic exist and they are best. It may take two or three soakings but soon you will have most of the paint off except for the nooks and crannies. At this point you use an old toothbrush, or at most a brass wire brush, to get the last of the paint off. Do not use a steel wire brush, or a wire wheel attached to a drill or grinder, because they will take the patina off of the piece and leave an unnatural shiny iron color. Thoroughly dry it when you are done. You may spray it with a clear lacquer (comes in spray paint cans) if you want to.
To accelerate this process you can use a crock-pot on its low setting. The heat speeds things up such that you can do it all in three sittings over 24 hours. On a Friday night you start it. Saturday morning take your first shot at getting as much off as possible. Put it all back to soak and then midafternoon give it another go. In the evening you should be able to finish it. Do not forget to wear disposable gloves when doing the actual stripping.
Also, please note, this process is only recommended for solid steel, iron, or brass. It is not recommended for plated items (for example Stanley ball hinges). The TSP tends to get under the plating and discolor portions of the item. I have learned this the hard way. For plated items you will have to use the goopy and more noxious paint strippers.
To reinstall it helps to put a toothpick or two in the old hole so the screws get a firm bite. If you are dealing with door hinges (which really need to be secure) I advise drilling the old hole with a ¼ inch bit and then gluing a piece of ¼ inch hardwood dowel where the hole was so that you have, essentially, restored the wood to new. You will then drill a small pilot hole when replacing the hinge.
Do not throw the old screws away. You might think it is easy to get new ones but you will find out the hard way that this is not so. They don’t make, or sell, a variety of slotted screws like they used to. It is only a little extra effort to clean the screws in the TSP like the parts. And why not? You know they fit perfectly, you would waste more time and money looking for replacements, and purists detest new screws (especially Phillips) in vintage applications. If some of the screws did get a little stripped you can regroove them by clamping them at their threads, between two pieces of wood, and running a hacksaw blade down the slot.
Cleaning up the old hardware makes a huge difference, especially in high visibility areas, and once you do it you will wonder what took you so long.

Paint Shaver Pro Review

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

After last year’s fire that I started while heat gunning the exterior of our 1888 Victorian, I started researching alternative methods of paint removal. I had previously stripped the entire exterior of our 1914 bungalow in San Jose without incident. But our current house has blown in insulation which presents a definite fire hazard.

I looked at several different chemical strippers but they were all expensive, time consuming, and messy.

I remembered hearing about the Paint Shaver Pro a few years ago and I had always considered that it must be too good to be true or why would people still be using heat guns or chemicals. Well I started looking for reviews on the Internet and generally they seemed favorable.

The biggest stumbling block is the purchase price. The 6 amp model is $599. But considering that the small fire I started with the heat gun cost me more than that to fix, well it was a no-brainer. Especially since I got away very lucky with the fire and caught it early.

I tried getting a used one off of Ebay but they always ended up going for close to the new price so I finally just ordered it from their web site. I received it about 10 days later. I just went with the 6 amp model, and none of the accessories. The blades last a long time and several Ebay auctions I saw people were selling lots of extra blades they never ended up using.

The biggest difference other than price between the 6 amp and 8 amp models is that they say with the 8 amp model you don’t need to sink any exposed nails. Well I’ve hit a few nails with my 6 amp model and it doesn’t seem to create much of a problem, not even nicking the blades.

I used a couple of boards that were going to be removed to practice on. Once I got started I couldn’t believe how fast it really went. In one day I easily finished stripping the south side of the house. Using the heat gun it would have taken me at least a week or more, plus a lot of electricity. There were a few areas that it couldn’t get into, mostly because of the exhaust vent, but I can sand those small remaining areas.

The shaver can leave some circular marks but they sand out easy. It’s a lot easier sanding the redwood without having to go through all the layers of paint.

I have v-rustic siding so it still leaves the groove that needs to be stripped. A previous owner caulked all of the joints which was a really stupid thing to do so I’m still spending a lot of time removing the paint and caulking from the v grooves, but it’s still progressing a lot faster than the section I did last year.

The fact that I haven’t had to call my fire department out this summer was an extra bonus. It’s embarrassing when you’re a fireman to have to call out your own department to extinguish a fire you started.

Victorian Preservation Association - P.O. Box 586 - San Jose, CA 95106-0586 -