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This Old Crack House

From log house to farmhouse. Farmhouse to townhouse. Townhouse to apartment house. Apartment house to crack house. Crack house to our house. Our house to our home.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Refinishing Vintage Lighting (part 1)

A few days back I mentioned how we found some 1930s wall lights and I was going to re-paint them and rewire them and see if anyone wanted to buy them for their house. It appears that a few people are interested in knowing how I did them and since I don't have a progress report on the house just yet, I will divulge all my dirty little secrets because enquiring minds want to know! I get a lot of hits on this site from people wanting to know how to strip paint from metal. This post should answer all those questions. I strip paint from metal by either putting the items in a coffee can with some chemical paint stripper covering them, putting paint stripper on an item and sealing it in a plastic garbage bag overnight (if the item is large) or by boiling the items in water. Which method I use depends solely on which house I am at and how lazy I am feeling at the time. With the first two methods the items could be ignored for days but the last method involves a little bit of work and a highly sophisticated piece of equipment. Here is a photo of ours in action.

I choose to use the "electric wok on the Maytag washer for a work bench in the basement" method opposed to the "perfectly good saucepan on the stove as a workbench in the kitchen" method. Either method will get the paint off the metal items but either method could also land you in the doghouse for a week depending on the quality and usefulness of the crucible containing the water and whether or not you tell the wife what you are doing. If in serious doubt, I would recommend the "old pan on a camp burner on a workbench in the garage" method but would sneak a few pillows and a blanket into the doghouse just in case.
After a few hours and refilling the wok with water a couple of times the metal objects look slightly better than when I bought them, see

If you spend a little time brushing them with a brass wire brush which you can buy at a big box retailer, rinse them and place them on the lid of the wok after remembering to turn the thing off they look like this!

If you forget to turn the wok off and go to bed leaving it on all night you will know about it the next day and will be glad to have placed those pillows and a blanket in the doghouse! (Don't ask how I know.)
(To be continued .........)


At 12/19/2007 5:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To get layers of paint off of old hardware I usually boil the parts in a solution of baking soda and water - seems to work better than just with water alone.


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