I was talking to my grandmother last night about this bookcase – not the one who is actually the source of the bookcase (she’s actually my great-grandmother). No, I was talking to Nana – the one who laughed at me when I was disappointed with the results of my original paint job. Ever the pragmatist, she asked me why I didn’t just paint over it in another color – that would be easier. After all, the wood isn’t anything fancy or lovely just by itself – it was already stained a really dark color to begin with. I didn’t have a great answer other than the obvious. I’ve already come THIS FAR!. Seriously – this project that I thought would be so quick has turned into a course, a thesis of my ability, endurance, and perseverance. It’s so beyond a nice, fun little revamp for this girl with many hobbies/little time, that I’m 100% positive my pig-headedness will prevail. Hopefully very soon. I’d like to use this old thing to house my forthcoming canning projects: beets, jams, pickles, sauces, etc. I’m going to be googling and mining Pinterest for some finish/paint ideas for cases like this. Let me know if you have some thoughts about it – I’d love some inspiration.
I still have a long way to go, although you might not be able to tell because of my craftily angled photo. When I wrecked this thing with paint several years ago, I painted it inside, outside, and all around. So, while I was able to sand/strip the outside pretty easily, and now a new stripping agent has helped me strip some of the inside. I’m only biting off small chunks at a time, and that means that the undersides of the shelves (and all of the nooks/crevices in and around them) also need to be stripped. Unless I decide to simply paint it again. In which case, I’ll just finish stripping the bottom shelf and consider it good enough to paint.
The stripping agent that I used this time was a gel, smelled of citrus, not some acrid, eyes-burning, foul chemical stank. Because I was just painting on small sections at a time, I didn’t wear safety goggles (I was wearing my glasses, fwiw). I still used chemical gloves. The paint came off like buttah with this stuff. Citristip. It’s packaging called it a safer Paint and Varnish stripping gel. I know it smelled safer. Usually, I’m skeptical of anything promoted this way. For some reason, my brain connects “safer” in chemicals to “less likely to do what you need it to”. I’m sure that chemical companies marketing their products to me for so many years has everything to do with that. There’s also something a little weird about a product that has to do something like strip paint calling itself safer (I guess that still doesn’t necessarily mean safe).
While this stripping gel worked very well for my paint issue, it left a little bit of residue here and there that my putty knife just schmeeeered around. Not wanting to let it dry and try stripping again, and hoping to avoid as little additional sanding as possible, I decided to try the denatured alcohol that I’ve used for similar tasks. It worked! But, it took so much of it, that I would definitely recommend starting with the stripping agent, scraping and scraping and scraping, then wiping over the whole thing with warm water, and THEN trying the denatured alcohol on the most stubborn sections.