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  • how to strip old wooden doors

    Hello, Newbie here. Am refinishing 11 doors for daughter's newly acquired older home. Tried Zip Strip. Ugly fumes. Tried belt sander. Fast buildup of old varnish on sanding belts. Is there some way to clean them?? Thanks for all information. Cella in SDak where the sun is shining and the grass is still green.

  • #2
    Re: how to strip old wooden doors

    Originally posted by cellaclay View Post
    Hello, Newbie here. Am refinishing 11 doors for daughter's newly acquired older home. Tried Zip Strip. Ugly fumes. Tried belt sander. Fast buildup of old varnish on sanding belts. Is there some way to clean them?? Thanks for all information. Cella in SDak where the sun is shining and the grass is still green.
    If it is an older home then the doors may have lead paint on them. I found out the hard way about this when I tried to refinish some old chairs. I couldnt figure out why the chemical paint stripper took off the first couple coats but wouldnt take off the original coat. I then started sanding them and had a little more luck. It was then pointed out to me that I was probably dealing with old lead base paint and I should wear a respirator and do this far away from the house. I don't have any real advice other than to keep this in mind.

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    • #3
      Re: how to strip old wooden doors

      Thanks. Can't be too careful! The doors are probably from 1920's. Thankfully no paint. Only old dark varnish. Sure fills up those belts tho! Thanks again. Cella

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      • #4
        Re: how to strip old wooden doors

        I recently stripped and refinished the stairway on my 130 year old farm house. The previous owners must have painted it every two years.... sigh. I tried a variety of chemical strippers, sanders, scrappers, cussing, etc. Found Zinsser Power Stripper to work the best.... Zip Strip just sat there. I burned up two Harbor Freight Multi-function tools trying to get paint out of the corners... took forever but the stairs look fantastic with Walnut treads and yellow pine risers.

        http://www.rustoleum.com/CBGProduct.asp?pid=230

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        • #5
          Re: how to strip old wooden doors

          Are you sure the doors are varnished, and not shellac? If shellac, denatured alcohol dissolves it quickly. Fumes could be an issue, but nothing like zipstrip. I've never used it, but HD carries a citrus based stripper that's supposed to work okay without the fumes.

          Its been awhile since I've done refinishing, but I've also gotten good results with using a heat gun and dull scraper to soften and remove finish. You'll need to sand afterward, and its a slow process. But by the time you're done with 11 doors, you'll be an expert.

          Hope this helps.
          Paul

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          • #6
            Re: how to strip old wooden doors

            this is a guess, but on old work I would look for a striper at least to try that will work well on shellac, (alcohol will soften shellac), but I have not done large doors, but on smaller cabinet type I have found good luck to make a tray of it and put the door in it so it is immersed in the stripper, one trick I read is to put the stripper on the door (flat) and then cover with a heavy plastic sheet that will keep the chemicals from drying and evaporating,

            but I have seen some striper's that will work well on paints, but not on shellac and vice versa,

            if you have some type of refinishing shop it may be worth to take them there and have them stripped by a "professional", not that is not a do it your self project, but I know the old enamels some of them are like nails in tuff ness, and in some aspects the combinations of layers of paint some times is a disaster in removal,

            and when one considers the times and materials some times replacement with new has some benefits to consider as well,

            we have striped some furniture and items over the years, but have never been overly satisfied with the results or the products I have found to use in there ability to work,
            Push sticks/blocks Save Fingers
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            • #7
              Re: how to strip old wooden doors

              CAUTION Dr. dean adell Nation wide KGO talk show talks about these stripping Chems.
              A young Woman had a Miss. Carriage after using stripper ! Any large city or town will have a Co. that will dip them in a vat. and return them ready for finishing. Call some antique dealers, for Phone #s, good luck Tool
              I can build anything You want , if you draw a picture of it , on the back of a big enough check .

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              • #8
                Re: how to strip old wooden doors

                Yes there is a way to clean out your belts. HD and most hardware stores sell a stick of a eraser like substance that you can clean the belt by running the unit and holding the stick on the belt. It will remove most of the build up.

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                • #9
                  Re: how to strip old wooden doors

                  Originally posted by smac92201 View Post
                  Yes there is a way to clean out your belts. HD and most hardware stores sell a stick of a eraser like substance that you can clean the belt by running the unit and holding the stick on the belt. It will remove most of the build up.
                  I have the gum rubber sticks. An old sneaker works good also!
                  I can build anything You want , if you draw a picture of it , on the back of a big enough check .

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                  • #10
                    Re: how to strip old wooden doors

                    Thanks very much for all that great info. Lots to think over and try. Tried Google. Got some good ideas there too. Thanks again! Cella

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                    • #11
                      Re: how to strip old wooden doors

                      I just completed stripping and rebuilding some old doors for a customer. The first thing I did was to check for lead paint. Yep, it was there, lots of it on top of an original coat of varnish. I decided to use heat. As I recall lead will not vaporize under 750 degrees so I used a heat gun set at the lowest setting which was supposed to be 600 degrees. The finish came off pretty well. What was left I was able to sand off easily with 150 grit sandpaper. I used my soda blaster for the inside corners but you can pick out the old finish with a little patience. These doors were to be repainted so the small gouges weren't an issue I filled them with wood filler and sanded them smooth.

                      I could have had the doors dipped and stripped for about $100.00 each. But in this area the dipping liquid is heated. If the doors you have are old there is a chance they were glued together with hide glue. Heat will loosen hide glue - that is why I use it building chairs, so I can take them apart to replace broken parts if need be - so be certain if you have them dipped that the company doing the dipping knows the doors are old. You don't need the added inconvenience of disassembling the doors completely and regluing them.

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