Bob Vila I ain’t

I think I mentioned a year, maybe two, ago that I found this cool, old stool someone had set out by the trash.

My goal at the time was to refinish it. Sand it down smooth and repaint it, maybe a glossy piano black or even a bright sun shiney yellow. Then I’d have a stool for practising guitar.

The stool, before I started working on it

I thought I’d bring you up-to-date on how that project is going.

It ain’t.

I’m still in the taking off the paint stage. In fact, most of the sanding I did was well over a year ago.

Just on the seat. 

That’s it. Granted, its one smooth seat, sure, but it took me several weekends of sanding to get it that way.

I still have to do the legs. 

When I found it, the stool looked like whoever had it last kept painting and repainting it. I’d say it had a several layers of paint on it about the thickness of 3 maybe 4 credit cards. 

That’s a lot of hard sanding and I didn’t have a sander. I was doing it by hand. Now we have a sander, which I have yet to use, but even with that, the legs are round. The sander is flat and rectangular.

To speed up the process, I tried paint remover. The first stuff I bought didn’t remove shit. I don’t know if I didn’t follow the directions properly, but it didn’t even make the paint soft. I mean, if I wiped it with a rag, the rag showed a smear of paint on it, but the stool itself didn’t look like anything had happened. Sanding proved faster.

So I bought some heavy duty paint remover by Goof Off. I sprayed it on. Let it sit for a bit, then used a plastic puddy knife like the instructions said. The paint had turned to a gooey paste. I’d scrap along the legs, wipe the goo off on a rag, but a flat puddy knife on a round surface cleans off just a tiny strip about a quarter of an inch wide, if that, while pushing the rest of the goo around the leg, kind of like how a snow plow cleans one area but leaves a wake of snow piled up on either side. I didn’t seem to be getting anywhere.

Mr. Impatient, that’s me. I thought there had to be a faster way to remove the goo. So I took the rag and tried to wipe it off.

That not only didn’t work — the rag became sort of glued to the wood as I attempted to wipe the goo away. So I used more force, gripping the rag in tightly in my hand and trying to rub up and down to get the legs clean. No go. The rag kept getting stuck to the wood and my hand kept slipping off. (And yes, if you’re wondering, I was wearing nitrile gloves. I do have some sense.) At this point, I’m getting angry, frustrated, and annoyed.

And guess what? The paint remover not only softened the paint, I soon discovered it was melting the nitrile gloves I was using as well! And because I’m not the most coordinated, nor as stated above the most patient, I started rushing the job oit of frustration, no longer paying attention to where I was touching.

I then realized this paint thinner not only melts nitrile gloves, but it BURNS LIKE HELL when you get it on your skin!

The burning oobleck was getting on my hands where the gloves melted; it had gotten on my forearms and wrists where I’d brushed against the stool because I wasn’t paying attention; the oobleck was even on one knee.

Did I mention it BURNED LIKE HELL? Well, it did. So I had to run into the house several times during this procedure to wash the oobleck off my burning flesh. I also went through several pairs of nitrile gloves. I started to feel lime the Incredible Melting Man

Later, I checked the labels. The Goof Off said to use chemical-resistant gloves and the nitrile gloves did not mention that they were chemical-resistant. Great. I’m surprised that it didn’t melt any holes in my nylon-blend shorts.

At that point, I gave up. 

I took the stool into the alley and hosed it down. Well, if you’re wondering, that didn’t do anything except deactivate the Goof Off. I had been hoping it would rinse off the paint like the first, inadequate, paint remover was supposed to do. It didn’t. It just left a hardened mass of paint and oobleck.

So I’m essentially back to square one. I still need to sand the legs, although now that the paint is bubblied and rough maybe I could take heavy duty steel wool to it to essentially scrap off the paint.

As you can see, I’m working in the dark here. I wasn’t raised by do-it-yourselfers and if there was a Mister (or Ms.) Fixit gene in our family it completely missed me, so I have no clue what I’m doing. 

Anyone have any suggestions? Maybe a paint remover that actually does rinse away?

I thought by refinishing this stool, I’d save money on buying one to use for practising guitar. I’m not sure I’m saving anything at this point. Least of all my sanity.

How does everyone else make this stuff look so easy?