When done correctly, refinishing furniture can restore it to its original beauty and give new life to older pieces. One of the main reasons people choose to refinish furniture is to preserve the value of their investment and extent its life. Refinishing allows you to update the style of older pieces yet keep the high-quality wood and unique, old hardware not commonly found in newer, mass-produced furniture.
Before beginning any furniture refinishing project, you need to thoroughly remove all existing paint and varnish. Failing to do so can make your end result not much of an improvement in the look of your original furniture.
Stripping paint can create a challenge even for the most experienced professional. This is especially true when removing paint from the intricate details often found on antique furniture. While traditional methods such as heat stripping and chemical stripping might remove existing paint, these methods are messy, inefficient and can damage delicate wood.
Depending on the age of the furniture, you might need to take some precautions to avoid lead exposure. “Not all painted furniture from the past was created with lead-based paint, but much of it was, so you do need to be careful, especially with small children in the house. The danger …(in keeping old, partially intact lead paint on wood)…lies in ingesting paint chips and inhaling paint dust, not in touching, so chipping surfaces pose the greatest threat.”*
In this age of repurposing old furniture, removing lead paint with a traditional heat gun is never advised. As the heat gun warms the paint, it releases toxic vapors into the air. Also, heat guns do not warm paint consistently so the paint can only be scraped off in chips or small pieces. This can cause toxic lead paint waste to get airborne and into soil. Read more at www.epa.gov/lead.
It’s important to learn all you can about paint stripping before beginning any project. Knowing the right tools and methods can save you a lot of time and effort in the long run. Eco-Strip offers three tools to make your task of stripping furniture faster, easier, cleaner, and safer: the Speedheater™ Cobra, the Boomerang Scraper, and the Grinding Kit.
The Cobra is a revolutionary infrared paint remover. There is no other tool in the world that removes paint so fast and so thoroughly. The Speedheater Cobra uses infrared heat to separate paint and varnish from wood in 3-5 seconds. Chemical strippers take hours and sometimes days of many applications to release paint, clean up, and dry the wood. Infrared rays are gentler on wood than chemicals and heat guns. A heat gun must be moved back and forth across a painted surface. With this movement of the blowing hot air, the paint is heated unevenly and more slowly. As a result, the risk of scorching the wood in one area while not heating the paint sufficiently in another area is greater than with the Cobra’s evenly distributed and focused heat.
Sanding is another common method of stripping furniture. Reaching detailed, carved surfaces and tight spaces is difficult even when manually sanding. The 6 compact bulbs in the Cobra’s 3” by 3” head focus the infrared rays into hard-to-reach surfaces such as cabinet interiors, spindles and tight corners. The Cobra excels at evenly heating ornate curves and carved wood. Stripping all the softened paint down to the bare wood is simple and fast with sharp scraper blades matching the surface profiles. For the irregular and curved surfaces often found on furniture, the Boomerang Paint Scraper works best.
Most traditional straight-edged scrapers aren’t designed to remove paint from curved grooves and carved wood. This makes paint scraping difficult when working with furniture. The Boomerang Scraper was designed specifically for this purpose. The laser-cut, beveled-edged, steel blade of the Boomerang Scraper ensures thorough removal of paint and varnish in tight spaces and off irregular wood surfaces. The 1/2 inch-wide, bottom curve of the blade scrapes grooves less than 1” in diameter efficiently. The 1/8 inch, rounded blade tips of the Boomerang Scraper allow the scraper to fit in small indented and carved surfaces where longer, straight-edged blades cannot fit or might damage the delicate wood. In addition, this paint scraper has two convex sides and one concave side, making it the perfect choice for furniture with both flat and rounded surfaces. When used with the Speedheater Cobra, the Boomerang Paint Scraper makes quick work of detailed paint stripping projects such as furniture.
Traditionally, paint is stripped using wide putty knives. The edges of these knives are blunt and flat. To strip paint completely, many strokes are required with dull blades. Sharp blades need less pressure and fewer strokes to remove all the paint. Speedheater Paint Scrapers are very sharp.
Keeping scraper blades sharp is a necessity for consistent and fast scraping. Maintaining the unique beveled edges of Speedheater’s steel blades it critical to their lasting effectiveness. Sharpening durable, steel blades can be a challenge for homeowners without professional sharpening tools in their home shops. Sharpening with a metal, hand file can cut off or make uneven the beveled edge. A rough and uneven paint scraper edge can mar delicate furniture wood.
The Swedish manufacturer of Eco-Strip products, Speedheater Systems, recognized this challenge and created the Grinding Kit specifically for this purpose. The Grinding Kit has two ceramic grinding cloths and a blade holder. Both the grinding cloths and the holder are durable and reusable. Scraper users especially like the portability of the Grinding Kit and the security of knowing they aren’t damaging the blade’s beveled edge.
The Speedheater™ Method and tools provide more efficient, faster, and safer paint and varnish stripping than traditional paint removal methods. Wouldn’t you rather restore your furniture this way than with messy chemicals or clouds of dust? Please contact us for more information.