Saturday, August 14, 2010

More About Stripping

*  Yes, the boys had a wonderful hike yesterday.  I'll show you when I get pics.  *

*  And, all of you - my IRL friends, and my bloggy friends - thank you for joining me in friendly imperfection.  And for giving me grace.  You guys are not the ones that make me crazy.  *

It's Saturday morning and yesterday's project awaits.

With the enthusiasm of inexperience, I decided to refinish a dresser.  My great-grandma Ruby's dresser.

I didn't take any before pics, but it might look similar to this - if I can get the paint off, except the bottom two drawers have flat fronts.

And, come to think of it, it's missing something - probably a mirror, like this.   In fact, this is more like it, but the other picture shows the sides.

Yep.  It's probably a lot like that, but somebody took the mirror off, leaving a strip of wood missing across the top along the back, which we'll have to fill in.

Very old.  Most likely oak, at least on the outside.  Cool old glass knobs and handles.
 Like the clear handle, bottom right.

And several coats of Very Ugly Paint - pink, light beige, a startling purple, and - on top - a flat, blue-ish gray.  (Why did my grandparents paint everything with flat paint?  I'll never know.)

I found the dresser when we moved in, seven years ago.  My grandpa had it in the garage, full of tools.


And it's been there, ever since.  I even bought stripper, that has also been sitting in the garage for seven years.

Well.  Now you know the truth.

I've begun to learn about stripping, and let me just say this.  Do not be swayed by the product with the nicer-than-your-average-chemical orangey scent.  No.  That stripper says you can leave it on for up to 24 hours.

Don't believe it. 

Do not put the stripper on after dinner and leave it on all night, like you would leave a pot to soak.  Even if the instructions say that will be fine.  It won't.  That will leave you an incredibly sticky chemical-paint-goo that sticks to everything it touches.


Just go to your local hardware store.  We have a great one.  I was going to say it's like a big rabbit warren, but no - it's more like pack rat heaven.  Sensory overload.  You couldn't get a cart through the aisles, which is fine, because I don't think they have any.  But they have everything else.  If you can find it.  Which I can't.  But it doesn't matter, because unlike the big chains, they have people who know how to help you.  At least three different employees offered me help.  Helpful help. 

So now I have this Much Better Stripper which actually works.  In about a minute.  Stellar.  Except by then, not only was my thermometer reading 88F - really! - I was so tired of scraping I only finished the drawers.  I still need to do the actual dresser.  And - surprise! - it must be a stronger chemical than the happy orangey one because in about the time it took me to do each drawer, it began to eat through my surely-non-OSHA-approved flimsy medical rubber gloves, and I only have a couple more in the box.

So I need more energy, more time, and more gloves.  Definitely more gloves.  Asbestos gloves.

And to make a decision.  To paint, or to stain.  See, my house is mostly bright colors (celery green, butter yellow, periwinkle blue) and white trim.  I like that.   So I could repaint the dresser with a creamy, glossy white, and the glass handles would really sparkle.  Or I could strip it all the way down and put some kind of a clear finish on it.  Because natural wood looks warm and inviting, though I'm no lover of oak.  I probably should strip it all the way down, just so I can see how that would look.  Even though I may end up painting it anyway.   Aarrrrgh.  Decisions!

But this project will not take seven more years.  I promise.


melanie said...

I will still like you if you paint it, but... we like .w.o.o.d. here... (since you don't live with my DH, either way will be fine) ;-)

Should I tell you about the chairs I bought many, many years ago on a garage sale ~ lovely shade of lavender? :p on top of multiple other colors. Hired a gal to strip them for us... that didn't work out. Wanted to hire someone else... that didn't work out either. Meanwhile Tim found a used dining set to buy ~ um, yeah, sans the paint. Sold the painted chairs on a garage sale a few years ago... :-\

So, you're AMAZING to tackle the job after only 7 years ~ and get it done (well, I know you will!)

=) RAH, RAH! Go, Julie, go!

P.S. I recently saw on someone's blog an idea to use an old dresser for a kitchen island base cabinet ~ follow? Cool, but you might want to keep your dresser intact.

Herding Grasshoppers said...

I've seen people use them for a bathroom sink cabinet, too!

This will probably go in the living room or dining room, for storage (table linens, candles, etc.)

And... I'm leaning toward painting it. The more paint I strip off, the less I like the wood underneath. I think it was stained before being painted, quite dark, and it's not all coming out. Also, there are stains on the top that may have been from whatever was set on it while it was a tool bench. Kerry says they may go deeper than we'd like to sand.


I got both sides stripped today, just have the front of the dresser to go - the most finicky part. Lots of layers, ridges, and angles.

Double ack.

But, I'm making progress. :D

leah said...

That dark old stain can be a real problem to get out of the wood. You may have to repaint it, but it will look beautiful when you're done! I can't wait to see pictures of the finished product!

I have some projects I want to start (there is a blog called "knock off wood" that has plans for bookcases, etc. that are simple enough for beginners to do, and the finished items look like Pottery Barn, etc). Now I just need to figure out how to work the circular saw!

Ruby said...

That sounds as though it will be beautiful no matter what finish you end up with. I like wood, but am hopeless as these restoring jobs so have not gone with that here. Love that it came from Grandma Ruby as well :-)

The dB family said...

It will look beautiful regardless! I love the style of it. I had a little cabinet from Murray's grandparents and I painted it -- horrors -- black. I still love it. It looks stunning. I have my grandmother's buffet and I am wondering what to do with it. I will be watching your project with baited breath. Maybe when you're done yours, I'll get the nerve to start mine. I won't buy the orangey stripper though ;o).


melanie said...

Paint sounds like a *great* plan =)

!!!Way to go!!!

~looking forward to seeing the pictures~

tammy said...

You've definitely inspired me. We bought our daughter a "naked" wood dresser/changing table and stained it ourselves, which is now in Aiden's room. I really need to strip it down and either restain it or paint it a fun color for his big boy room. I'm thinking paint. I can't wait to see your finished project.

and Leah ... I am definitely checking out this blog you're talking about. I'm in desperate need of some bookshelves that don't look like we put them together out of a box!

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Love that Knock Off Wood blog - thanks for the tip, Leah!