House Renovation: Sanding Wood

Flap Sander Modified

This week Greg has been researching sanding techniques for the wood paneling in our den. He picked up some sanding flaps that can be attached to his hand drill for sanding the molding and fluted trim. He modified the flaps by cutting the sandpaper to make it softer and more pliable. He then holds the drill up to the molding and sands. It’s not working out so great. We still have to get into the grooves. I was using a heat gun to try to scrape out the rest of the paint but it’s laborious. He’s now contemplating trying out a soft wire wheel attachment instead.

He picked up some screened sanding pads and a sanding block that helps control dust while sanding. They both work great on the large flat areas of the paneling. He hooks the block up to a small vacuum that sucks up dust as you sand.

I bought him a Rockwell Sonicrafter for Christmas which has been great for sanding hard to reach spots like corners and door frames. We are still trying out all our new tools. Both of us have been sick this week and haven’t felt like doing too much. If you have ideas on how to sand wood with minimal dust please leave a comment below.

Sanding With Flap Sander

Sanding In Den

Tools for Sanding Wood Paneling

Close Up Of Moulding

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22 Comments

  1. I don’t have anything constructive to add, but I love the way the room looks now! I’d be tempted to paint the floors and call it a day :)

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  2. I was also going to suggest the Dremel tool. They may have some soft attachments that won’t damage the wood or raise too much dust. Here is a suggestion if you have old hardware that is covered with paint (hinges, doorknobs, etc). Get a crock pot that you don’t plan on cooking in ever again. Place your hardware in and cover with liquid dish soap. Turn the crock pot on and leave overnight. Not sure if you can put the pot on low, may need to be on high. Hope you can use that!!

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  3. dear katy. i bought a tool for this work as well, I can send you picture from this tool, because I don’t know the accurate word in english, actually also not in germann ;-) and I think it’s much more faster and efficient than your sandingblock. but i need your emailadress ;-)
    tilda

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  4. small shaped scrapers from a paint shop work the best, get plain steel and you can file or grind them for specific shapes. They are the best way to remove paint without wrecking the molding profile. good luck, can’t believe the patience and work you put in so far.

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  5. Hi Kelly,

    We actually own a silent paint remover. (we never wrote about it for some reason) It removed about 10 layers of paint but this is what is left. It’s difficult to get into the small areas with the large paint remover and it hasn’t been able remove some of green paint (maybe stain) that is remaining. So that’s where the heat gun came in. It’s not ideal. We are basically just trying to clean up the little nooks.

    http://www.silentpaintremover.com/

    I do recommend the silent paint remover for large areas. The infrared heat is the way to go. I’ve been seeing painters around mhead using it to scrape off exterior paint of old homes too.

    See here to what it looked like before:
    http://www.katyelliott.com/blog/2008/11/stripping-walls-in-den.html

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  6. We have an old Greek Revival in Salem and are having a lot of luck with the Silent Paint Remover-it’s infrared heat, and won’t bring the paint temp up high enough to vaporize the lead in old paint (unlike a heat gun), so it minimizes the lead hazard, and multiple layers can come off cleanly in one swipe. It’s far faster & safer than sanding, heat gun, stripper etc. Expensive, but maybe you could try renting one first–I think Waters & Brown Decorating in Salem rents them…

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  7. I hope you are using proper ventilation and taking reasonable precautions. Old houses almost always have lead paint. Sanding is the worst method because it sends small dust particles throughout the house. Lead abatement experts nearly wear spacesuits for a reason.

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  8. I feel your pain! I am currently multitasking between finishing our own home and it’s various painting/sewing/refinishing projects and masterminding the complete reno of my parents’ newly purchased dream home. My poor husband has been trying for weeks to strip the varnish off a gorgeous coffee table we bought in the summer and which is destined to be painted eventually! It has similarly frustrating trim and beveling to your own lovely project. Best of luck!

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  9. OMG don’t paint over it. Use stripper and stain it as light as you can stand.

    We had a window frame stripped–took it down and sent it to the dipper. It’s so pretty plain we haven’t even had the heart to stain it. It’s just the raw wood. Live with it open for a while and you won’t be able to paint…

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  10. Is your goal sanding the wood or removing paint? If it’s the latter, I recommend Stripeeze. I tried to be all green and sustainable when I was stripping the wood doors in my house. Stripeeze works much better. Then you can go over smaller areas with regular old sandpaper, dental picks, and maybe a dremel (well, that’s what I did, anyway).

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  11. Stripper for the grooves. Cover with plastic wrap to keep wet, then scrape out paint, and neutralize. Dental tools work really well for small areas like this, they come in all diferent shapes. Sculpting tools can work as well.For sanding the grooves I would wrap sheet sandpaper around a small tool to sand the grooves after stripping.

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  12. You’re both sick? Did you check if any of the paint was lead based? I hope so.

    The husband and I just finished stripping our old built in cabinet in the dining room and found out that the first layer of paint had lead in it. We couldn’t dry sand or use a heat gun (b/c of lead fumes and dust) so we used soy-gel and then wet sanded by hand, and then cleaned with TSP.

    Soy-gel did a fairly good job of softening the paint in the cracks and crevices. Really though, I think no matter what you use, it’s just miserable work.

    Good luck! Be safe!

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  13. It’ll get painted – the sanding is more or less just to smooth some checks in the wood from the scrapper, and remove some paint chips that are still hanging on.

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  14. Stripping paint from molded grooves is surely a more refined type of torture that any that have gone before it!!

    Our 120 year old house had so many layers of old paint that parts of the grooves had almost disappered. Tried EVERYTHING and finally got some of the paint stripper that is used by professionals. I used a fine brush and painted on a bit, waited for it to blister (not long.. 30 secs) then scrapped it with a scapel. Then just wipe it with damp cloth. Didnt ruin the wood, just made it really easy especially in those tedious corners. The scapel also came in handy to slice off the really stuborn bits!

    Good luck. It IS worth it…… eventually!!!

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  15. Have you tried a dremel? That won’t help with dust but it’ll help get in the grooves.

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  16. Excuse my ignorance here, because clueless doesn’t even describe what I don’t know about refinishing wood, but are you leaving the wood bare/stained or repainting it? If you’re repainting, how perfectly do you need to get every dot of paint out of the grooves? This looks like torture! I’m sending healing and sandpaper-genius vibes north in separate packages.

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  17. You are fortunate to have such a handy partner!

    I really love the current look of this room. I know it is not finished, but it really is gorgeous in the “in progress” state. It looks a bit Swedish.

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