Help me finish this %$#@! refinishing job
June 19, 2011 6:31 PM   Subscribe

I'd like some tips and tricks on how to strip down a vanity table and chair for refinishing

I have a nice little vintage vanity table with a three-way mirror and fancily detailed chair that I am trying to strip down and refinish. It was formerly painted mustard yellow, God knows why.

I've used paint stripper to get rid of 99% of the paint and most of the varnish underneath. Now I'm trying to sand off the stain underneath. And it's such horrendously slow going that I despair of ever having the time and patience to finish it. At present I am hand sanding it with a very coarse grade of sandpaper, and using a toothbrush-sized wire brush and a paring knife to get into some of the crevices and dislodge the last stubborn bits of paint. I've spent quite a lot of money on some sanding attachments for my cordless drill, but they don't seem to work well at all.

Does anyone have any time and effort-saving tips and tricks for how to sand these pieces down?
posted by orange swan to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Hire a belt or orbital sander.
posted by smithsmith at 7:02 PM on June 19, 2011

You could have taken this to a professional furniture stripper, who would have dipped it in a large vat of [nasty chemical], which would have removed all of the paint from within the nooks and crannies.

Never done it before, but considering it for some furniture I own whose finish has lost its luster over the decades.
posted by schmod at 8:00 PM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

The kind of small, handheld mini "sand blaster" used for etching glass by hand will work wonders on getting out old paint in crevices. You may need to buy or rent a small air compressor to furnish compressed air, but some people in crafts applications do fine with the limited air capacity provided by a storage tank, which they fill at a gas station.

Wear eye protection, long sleeves, and gloves, and work outdoors with this tool. You'll also need to purchase abrasive grit to use with it.
posted by paulsc at 8:20 PM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I stripped the heck out of my kitchen cabinets using a random orbital sander for the large flat parts, and an oscillating dremel tool with a sander attachment for the nooks and corners.
posted by itstheclamsname at 8:27 PM on June 19, 2011

What's the end game here? Do you really really need all the stain gone? I'd test whether the stain is really such a problem for your final product.

Alternately, more chemical stripper might be in order.
posted by Heart_on_Sleeve at 1:57 PM on June 20, 2011

I will be putting on new stain and varnish and had assumed that I would need to get rid of all the old stain if the new application is to look uniform. Although... I am using a relatively dark stain ("antique walnut") so maybe it wouldn't matter?
posted by orange swan at 6:25 AM on June 24, 2011

Accept imperfection. It adds character
posted by Heart_on_Sleeve at 12:21 PM on June 28, 2011

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