Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Progress? (Alternately: What it looks like when you don't know what you're doing)

Between the earthquake and hurricane, you may have heard about the absolute hot mess that has been Boston weather of late.  Needless to say, this hasn't given me much of a chance to work on the nightstands without making an equally hot mess out of our apartment.  However, there has been some progress.  Not much, but I'll take what I can get.

First, you may remember that I'd purchased some extra-strength, getcha-high-in-a-hot-minute paint stripper.  This little guy-
If I had to imagine what it's like to huff, say, glue or pesticide or meth in the privacy of your own backyard, it wouldn't be too dissimilar from cracking open a bottle of Strip-X and taking a whiff (minus a pesky family having you tailed by a film crew all the while reassuring you that you aren't on Intervention- "BUT YOU SAID THIS WASN'T INTERVENTION! YOU PROMISED! I AIN'T GOING BACK TO REHAB!")  At Home Depot,  the Klean Strip shares an aisle with a number of gas mask-looking contraptions ranging from "I don't want to catch SARS at the airport" to "I'm going to stash this in my bunker with all the canned goods for when it's nuclear war and it's just me and Will Smith vs the aliens".  And at the time, I thought to myself, well, those seem a bit like overkill... we're just painting here. In retrospect, however, a mask probably wouldn't have been the worst idea I've ever had.  

To make this stuff even scarier, it's nearly impossible to open.  (This from a gal who nearly broke a wrist after spending hours squeezing caulking from a hard plastic tube.  The kind you're supposed to use a gun with). On the top of the can is printed a warning, cautioning you not to open it too quickly, lest it explode and cover your entire body in chemical burns.  I wore elbow length latex gloves and struggled with the lid for 20 minutes.  I didn't want to take off the gloves (see 'burning your arms to pieces', above) but I certainly couldn't grip anything with them on.  Finally, insanely sweaty and two fierce blisters later, I caved and asked a worker (who was installing tile in the apartment above ours) to open it for me.  He tried turning the lid three times before grabbing a wrench.  Duh. Then, I got back to business at my little set-up in the backyard.  Honestly I thought this was a totally sweet set-up until I took a look at this picture:

Beyond bootleg.  Notice that I haven't attempted to weigh down my 'drop cloth' with anything. Oops. Perhaps you also notice the sewer and artificial turf in our backyard.  It should come as no surprise that our neighbors have a steady stream of visitors who sit in our driveway waiting to pick things up.  And no, I'm not talking about pizza.  In any event, I settled in for an afternoon of work with the extra strength stripper, which looked like this when I first applied it: 
See all of the crackle-y bits? A good sign- right?

The good and bad thing about this stuff is that it works- quickly.  No five hours of sitting and waiting while it's covered in plastic wrap.  Definitely good, no question about it.  The bad part, however, is that I was trying to work on both at once (my first among many mistakes).  I'd paint it on one, paint it on the other and then try to scrape paint off the first one.  Already dried.  So I painted on another coat. And then another, because coat #2 wasn't thick enough. Ugh- terrible.  And what was I to do about the gloopy stuff on the legs:
Gloop, gloop and more gloop
These dreamy little legs are what originally drew me to these nightstands.  The design is traditional but not too dull, but getting paint out of all of the crevices and ridges was/is a nightmare.  The above is the before picture. And here's an after (as in, where I'm at now, which is hopefully not the same as where it will be in a day or two):

Not all the way better, of course, but nous arrivons.  Even the grooves on the sides have seen a vast improvement:

(Not sure why I can't get these side-by-side).  The key thus far, equally as useful as the industrial strength paint stripper-if not more so, has been this little dreamboat- a Ryobi Corner Cat Sander.  
So tiny and cute!
It turns out that sanding the shit out of furniture (and running around looking like a little dust bunny afterward until your husband comes home from work and corrals you into the shower) works wonders for paint removal.  Don't know why I didn't think of that to begin with!   

1 comment:

Pete said...

"Caroline, you don't talk like that!"

-Your Mother