Stripping Wood at the New House

Last night Liz and I went to the house after work, and spent a few hours stripping paint from the trim. We were a little uncertain if we would try to keep all the wood, as some of it is original and some of it was kind of “throw in” after the fact. But on closer inspection, we think that a lot of the wood in our place is yellow pine – something that’s rare, and harder to find nowadays (I think).

Liz, helping clean up my area (she was working on the right side).

We first learned about the wood after Julie opened up a bit of the sliding door, in our dining room. The wood looked so nice, we decided it would be worth it to expose it again, and spend the time removing all the paint by hand.

Tonight was my first night stripping (I still giggle like a 13 year old, every time I say this out loud). I was working pretty slowly, but I think I’m slowly catching on to the process. We’re using a regular stripper to remove most of the paint, and then using denatured alcohol for the cleaning work. I’ve found that paper towels have been working better for me than the steel wool, but I’m still getting my bearings.

My impulse is to switch to the denatured alcohol faster than I should. Rather than spend time getting all the paint chunks out, I want to just dive in and start clearing things away. The result of this ends up being me, smooshing around a lot of extra paint unnecessarily. I think the key is to really be patient, get as much paint out of there as possible… thereby making the cleaning process much easier.

When I first started, it felt like I was trying to push a brownie through a table top. Nothing we getting removed, it was just getting smeared across a larger area. But, as I got a little better with things… I started to see some more progress.

We were at this for about 2.5 hours, and I think I maybe got a foot cleared away. Granted, I was being pretty ginger about things… but still, that’s not a lot of distance for the time we put in. I found myself getting frustrated and annoyed halfway through the process, but I think part of that was me wanting to be better at things immediately. In addition to that, it’s just not pleasant work – it’s slow, tedious, and a very gradual process.

During the night, I had to remind myself what we were trying to do – to bring this house back to its original state, and to preserve what we can. I also had to remind myself to be patient. We have a lot of ground to cover yet, and the best we can do is tackle things a little at a time.

Bit by bit, a little at a time.

A Day at the House: Attic Cleaning, Reinforced Doors, and a Stereoscope Viewer

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