Saturday, September 8, 2012

Paint Scraping Tools

Since I try to enable people to restore the natural wood in their homes, it has always felt a bit inadequate to just say "I used dental tools and paint scrapers."

I was lucky and found my dental tools at a local army surplus store. I bought one of most every shape they carried (about 20 or so) and not all of them were useful. Dental tools with thin wires were not useful; the wires bent too easily. It's better to stick with steel tools with stout tips. Of the tools we bought, these were the most useful.
The most useful paint stripping tools from our set
While I was lucky to find a good selection of "dental tools" at my local army surplus store, it really doesn't help anybody else who doesn't live near Portland. So, I went searching for them online and I think my favorites must actually be carving tools. If you do a search on "clay carving tool set" or "wax carvers and spatulas" you're likely to find quite a few. Here is a link for one nice looking set: 12 Piece Wax Carving and Pick Set.

As for the larger profile scrapers, we own quite a few. One of the more useful was this Allway scraper with interchangeable blades. And while the ergonomic handle was comfortable to use, it was inconvenient to stop and change blades. I might have liked it better if I bought more than one so I could have had them set up with different blades.

Oval Paint Scraper
The tools we most used were like these. Almost all of our paint scraping was done with the Oval Paint Scraper and the Triangle Paint Scraper. We also occasionally used the Round End Panel Blade Paint Scraper, but we surely could have gotten by with the first two if we hadn't had the last.

During my slow progress scraping the entryway staircase, the most useful dental tool is the one pictured at right. It fits between the balusters and does a good job at scraping off the softened paint. Though, progress is slow. It took me six or so hours to clean the majority of the inside edges of the balusters with KleanStrip. And there is still plenty of detail work needed, digging paint out of visible corners.

Today, I did a bit more paint stripping with the heat gun. I'm almost done with the first pass on this side, I just need some help from Jeff at getting to the woodwork near the ceiling. Though there is still stripping the wood base trim, the inner string, along the left side of the staircase—and the two windows. We still have at least a couple more days with the heat gun.
Paint Stripping Progress - Day 3


  1. Oh my goodness! That's quite a project you've taken on!

  2. Absolutely beautiful! It is going to look amazing when you are finished :)

    Is that hubbard squash I see on your walls?

  3. Yup, hubbard squash. We've bought gallons and gallons of that color! =)

  4. Thanks for the info! I just ordered a wax carving tool kit. Trying to strip the tiny seams of my dining room built ins (project I started years ago and never finished).

  5. Wow you are tenacious! How long did it take to do the staircase? Also, thanks again for the detailed post!

    1. It took me about a month, but I didn't work for more than a couple hours most days. And it seemed like most of the time was spent sanding.