Tag Archives: soygel

Let’s just pretend the stripping is done now

I had a goal to be done stripping, all the stripping, before July came. That’s not going to work out. Because of course everything is slow. Incidentally, I’ve been watching houses getting thrown up  by the dozen on my way to and from work every day. Except that I know a mansion that was in the DuPont family came down to build them. (The crazy one who killed someone.) I was of course mad about that. Especially since half the development is townhouses anyway and you’d think there’d be a way to subdivide the mansion without leveling it. But I was surprised to see that they’re not that bad. Until I saw this. (And yes, I drove the beater car with the junkyard hood that’s the wrong color into the subdivision to take this photo.)


I may be putting 2 years and all my money into the Crooked House. I may have let my social ties lapse, my clothes fall apart at the seams, my hair turn grey, and my parents’ house fill with junk, but at least I will never suffer the indignity of owning a cantilevered chimney veneered in fake stone. If they hadn’t bothered with the stone it would have been better, no? For comparison, here’s the house across from my parents, which shows you that there is a correct way to build a chimney on the same wall as a flat foundation. But a cantilever ain’t it. Cantilever a bay window instead.


Alright, back to my house. I want to say all there is to say about stripping now and be done with it, even though it’s not finished. I’ve been using the heat gun, Klean Strip, and SoyGel. Yup, all 3. The heat gun gets most of the paint off clean, but then I burn the wood if I have teeny bits left, so for these, out comes the KleanStrip. But for what I’m stripping stain grade, the SoyGel works as well as anything, stays wet a long time, doesn’t burn my skin, and cleans up with water. Plus, I paid dearly for it and want to justify the expense. I’m doing the railing stain grade, using only chemicals. There are too many curves for the heat gun to work. Here’s what I’ve got now:


Those little paint chips aren’t stuck to it either. So this is about ready to stain!

Except inside the teeniest crevasses of that volute. You can see them from the underside. And they might drive me insane. Any ideas? I’m talking about inside the crevasse; the flat bottom will practically strip itself.


Then there’s the basement stairway door. Someone busted the panel out and then replaced it with plywood that wasn’t cabinet grade. I busted that out and will replace it again and it’ll look almost as good as new. I was gonna leave the back side because who cares about the basement stairwell. But then I couldn’t fight the urge to make it look decent.


And under the paint I found definitive proof that the door was not free!


And remember how I used a highly alkaline stripper on these scrolly things under my stairs? I’ve finally neutralized them with an acid wash and then (lol) used a heat gun to get off what that complicated process missed.


So there you have it! I’m almost ready to move on to prettier, (hopefully) less labor intensive things!

Out of Denial and Into the Stairwell

Now that the spraying operations are winding down, I can turn to one of the last things I’ve sort of ignored for the last two years: the bannister. It’s pretty and old, but a little worse for wear. I was imagining for a while that I could strip the handrail alone (which will be easy because there is varnish under the paint) and leave the balusters in as found condition. I guess I never took a good look at them. Probably because I didn’t want to. They look more like candles than millwork grade wood.


Ack. That’s definitely a little more abuse than anyone could ever call character. What to do about it? I really wanted to make this an easy job. And oil based paint on wood with no varnish under it is not easy to strip. Plus, going to all that trouble just to repaint seems unrewarding. My first thought was that the top layer of latex paint is so thick, I could probably sand the runs off of it without going through to anything that contains lead. (Note: This is called cutting corners and is not a lead safe practice.) But (luckily for my health) the candle wax faux finish started peeling off in sheets. Like Saran wrap.


And so I got busy picking at it. This quickly became addictive.


But not really. Because the cure for this “addiction” was to keep doing it. And I realized that this approach wasn’t working so well. Sometimes big, satisfying sheets came off. Other times they didn’t. I went to the Home Depot to get a spray bottle of latex paint remover. This didn’t turn out to be the magic bullet I hoped for. It’s really made to take spills and overspray off of things, not to strip full coats of paint. And plus, the oil based paint underneath still wasn’t wonderful looking. I asked around for advice. My dad proposed using the belt sander. This is a terrible idea. But I was tempted. My co-pay on having the lead chelated out of my blood might still be cheaper than having the railing restored professionally. My mom chimed in with a little much needed moral support: “Lorraine and David were stripping theirs but they only got through 3 posts and then they gave up.” Thanks Mom, I feel so much better now. Then I asked the Irishman. He said dismantle it and number all the posts and run them through a planer. Nope. Nope. Nope.

And so Sunday morning I bit the bullet and got to work. No I didn’t. I went to a brunch potluck and whined about the job ahead of me to a bunch of people. Then I got back and on went the SoyGel.


I didn’t bother with Saran wrap because I thought it would be brutal to get it tight around every spindle. Instead, I just let it do its thing for a couple hours and sat Indian style – and remember, my hallway is narrow and I can barely fit doing this. Well, it’s clearly going to need another coat of SoyGel, but at least the square posts are starting to emerge.


So, do you think I’ll be a stripper forever, or are you optimistic that soon I’ll move on to more respectable work?

Doors! Doors! Doors

Yep, I’m finally back onto doing stuff. All my upstairs doors are now stripped of paint! A few that were never painted still need their varnish stripped!


How did I manage this so fast? I found a corner to cut. I’m not doing anything to the back sides of the sliding closet doors. They’ll remain like this. I’ll probably give them a light scraping to knock off what’s loose. The neighbor’s kids are the only ones who might shut themselves in the closet, and they can judge me if they want.

Awesome door. Yes it's upside down. Trust me, the other one looks the same.

Awesome door. Yes it’s upside down. Trust me, the other one looks the same.

Now I don’t mean they’re completely done. I still have some bits here and there and the original varnish that didn’t come off is getting a little globby. Still, it means a lot to be done with the thick, heavy paint. Like this. Mmm, beans.


So my original plan was to use wood filler and repair all the gouges and paint the doors white to match the trim. The wood messed up this plan. It’s just too nice. Now instead I just want to get some kind of consistent coloring between the doors. The flaws stay as they were. They just look like character on nice wood.

So the rest of the doors. I have these for all openings from the upstairs hall.


I suspect that they’ll all end up kind of a medium wood color like the one on the left. All the doors have the awesome reeding on both sides except the linen closet and bathroom doors, which will have them on the hallway side only. I’m using these with white porcelain knobs.

And then in the back bedroom I have this awesome tall pair that forced me to build a sloped ceiling.


They’re not getting stripped because the paint is sound and I suspect that they were never stained and that the wood is paint grade.

Then there’s a bit of abuse I have to fix. The linen closet door looks like its previous owners mortised hinges with a Sawzall.


Though I’m leaving a lot of holes where they were, this abuse has to get cut off. And then I need to take off from the other side for symmetry and stain the new cuts to match the old door.

The massive heavy doors on the front bedroom closet are gonna slide. The pulls I got are big enough to hide the doorknobs but not this patch where there was once a lock.


I might just paint them brown to match the wood. So, any advice? I’m thinking I’ll keep the doors as light as possible. Not blond. I want them dark enough to contrast with the floors. But I could go to a dark brown if I wanted to. Let me know what you think!

Strip Act

Warning: This post contains photos of nude doors. If you object to this material or live in a country where viewing it is illegal, please click here.

Now I wanted to set this post to music but I have bigger fish to fry than making my web site nice, so just play this music while you read if you’d want to set the mood right.

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