project, top tip, Woodworking

Stripping paint from chairs - chair 2

A few weeks ago I bought a table and 4 chairs from someone at work. A bargain at 30 quid. I wrote before that I decided to refurbish the chairs from their black painted look, back to a natural wood finish. With the first chair I tried a couple of approaches to stripping off the black paint. First I tried a hot air gun. Which was not terribly effective. So I moved on to paint stripper and wire wool.

By the end of the first chair I was getting the hang of the paint stripper approach. However it was still a pretty messy and slow process. And I was not particularly looking forward to getting the remaining 3 chairs complete.

Whilst in France I chatted to Kat's dad about the job and he suggested a different approach. He pointed me at a set of nylon brushes that he had bought from screwfix. The go in your drill and are ideal for removing finishes. He'd used his to strip varnish, but the same should work for paint.

Given that they were not terribly expensive I ordered a set (and a trade pack of screws which always come in handy).

Co-incidentally I was browsing the forsale forum at work shortly after and I saw someone selling a DeWalt drill driver with 2 batteries and a 1 hour quick charge. Given that my now pretty old Bosch drill/driver has been struggling with failing batteries for a while I decided 40 pounds for a nearly new DeWalt was to good of a deal to pass up.

And so armed with new nylon brushes and a new drill I set to work on a patch of the second chair. And immediately I could tell this was going to be much easier than paint stripper.

It's not trivially easy, but it is probably about as easy as paint stripping is going to get. The brishes do a good job of rubbing away the paint without doing too much to the underlying wood. Though you do have to be careful not to apply too much pressure. Of course cordless drill/drivers are not really intended for continuous use, and the battery quickly drained.

No matter, I have a corded drill with a flexible shaft which I use for sanding and buffing things on the lathe. I use it this way because the switch broke some time ago, and once switched on at the main the drill is always on, until you switch it off at the mains. Not ideal for a drill, but fine for this kind of task. Normallyit hangs from a screw next to the lathe. So I made up a quick wooden mount that it could rest in whilst I worked on the chair. ( I love my bandsaw, as it made doing that a 5 minute job rather than a long winded process)

Properly armed with a drill in a wooden support, and the my nylon brushes in the flexible shaft I set to work properly. And boy does it make short work of paint removal. It does generate a lot of dust which is the paint coming off. But it leaves the wood surface nice and clean ready for a final sand.

A couple of things too note if you consider doing this. Using drills with broken switches is not recommended. And you really do want a secure mount to hold it during this kind of use. The torque bring applied to the brushes can, under load end up applying to the drill. I had mind skip out of it's resting place.

And more importantly, drills aren't really designed for continuous use. They are designed for bursts of work, followed by rest. Using it like this made my drill hot. REALLY hot. I made a conscious effort to stop at regular intervals and allow the drill to cool. Yes this means the job elapsed time still takes a long time. But I'm happy that the amount of time I'm spending doing the paint stripping is much less.

I considered removing the motor from the drill housing and setting it up with some heat sinks. But decided that this way lies death from electrocution or fire. Better to just not forget it gets hot and compensate with breaks.

The spindles on the chair are a little more fiddly than the large flat areas, as you'd expect, but the nylon brush set comes with a couple of different shapes, and I have been making satisfactory progress with the narrow disc shaped brush. I've not yet finished the second chair, but hope to do so this afternoon. And I'm a little happier at the prospect of getting the remaining 2 chairs done with the nylon brushes than I was with paint stripper.

The only problem I see is that I'm wearing through the main nylon bush pretty fast. At the rate I'm going I may need on per chair! which works out about 3.50 per chair if I don't include the cost of delivery. that's not too exessive, but deffinately a factor to consider.