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A project I’ve been working procrastinating on lately is stripping the bedroom door. Because the paint is peeling and nasty, and probably full of lead.

For a while, all was going well. I mean, apart from the terrible backache from the too-short saw horses.The biggest trick is to set up a putty knife somewhere so you can clean you scraper off one-handed. Otherwise, you keep fuddling about trying to hold the heat gun and the putty knife with one hand while you clean the scraper with the other, or wiping the scraper on less effective things, like the edge of the door, or your pants. Since doors, conveniently, have doorknob holes, it is quite convenient to stick the handle of the putty knife there, and with a little practice you can de-gunk your scraper with nearly a flick of the wrist.

The other trick is covering the chemical stripper with plastic wrap, so it soaks in longer and better without drying first. I had two patches going. I would pour on some stripper (the semi-gel kind), put the plastic on top, and mush it around through the plastic until it was pretty thin. Then I would switch to the other patch, which I’d done the same thing to before, pull the plastic off and set it aside. The top part of the stripper is still pretty fresh, so I push that onto a new part of the door, pour on a little more and cover it again. Then I really scrape off the loosened paint and used stripper.

Cleaning the knife is an issue again here. You will quickly run through a lot of paper towels if you choose that method. Likewise, while the stripper does not dissolve the plastic wrap, it does dissolve solo cups. Just fair warning here. An empty tin can worked well.

Lots of work, but the results are encouraging. These pictures are after one pass with the heat gun, and one with the chemical stripper. I started doing a second round of chemical, but it seemed like I might as well just sand at that point, I was getting to bare wood assuming in places the scraper made good contact, but a squeegee it is not.

There appeared to be, from the bottom, a fairly thick layer of dark translucent varnish (or shellac, or whatever, I didn’t test it) a layer of gunmetal gray paint they covered everything in, and three layers of white paint.

I don’t know if walnut was my favorite wood before we moved here, but it certainly is now.

But wait, did you see that at the top? That didn’t look like walnut, lets look closer…

No, definetly not. In fact, it even feels softer. Like…poplar?

Why would anyone make a giant door out of an expensive, hard wood like walnut, and make the top two panels out of poplar?! Particularly when they were planning on staining it instead of painting over it? Even if they were going to paint over it,  why wouldn’t you make the whole darn thing poplar? Was walnut just what they happened to have around? Seriously?

Unlike many things in this house, I am pretty sure the door hasn’t been tinkered with in latter years. It’s all fitted together with tennons and wooden pegs, which I do not imagine would be easy to take apart and back together again without showing.

I’ve also since inspected one of the unpainted original doors laying about (yes, there are plural) and when you look close under the dirt, it seems like it has lighter top panels too. They stained them darker to make the match better, but I’m pretty sure it’s different wood.

So… again, why?

Oh well, guess I need to start on the other side if I want to be able to close my bedroom door.

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