The wood is beautiful, but before I could finish this side practice project, the house and other things needed attention, so I turned my efforts towards the first of three vintage mantels we salvaged from Glenlochan prior to the demolition phase. This was the biggest and most ornate of the three mantels, and my hope was (and still is) to get it stripped thoroughly enough that we can actually stain and finish it, rather than paint it. Here's where I started:
Unlike my thrift store find, this baby was covered in a good 2 coats of paint over the original stain and varnish, so it has required a lot more effort. I dove into this project over the course of two days spent in VA and made some good progress - the pictures below illustrate the progression:
The mantel right now:
Like the mantel, the upstairs banister had been heavily coated in layers of paint, some really ugly black stain and varnish. With my practice on the end table and the mantel, I had learned that I had a strong preference for Strypeeze chemical stripper over any of the others I had tried. Unfortunately, Lowes stopped carrying Strypeeze sometime after I bought it a few months ago, so I had to resort to an online purchase. A huge price break was given for buying four gallons - I would have been stupid not to!
Here's was the starting point for us on the bannister:
We were planning to keep the spindles painted since that was how they were originally - they had never been stained - but the downstairs handrail and newel post had never been painted and they were beautiful heart of pine.
Although it looks like it was mostly done, it actually wasn't, and I jumped in and started on it early Saturday morning. Together we both worked on the bannister for most of Saturday and Sunday to get it done before the vintage heart of pine floors were to be installed on Monday. Rob had set up a nifty scaffold over the stairs that allowed us to work on both sides of the rails comfortably.
We were stripping machines:
While driving back to Philly at 4:00 am Monday morning, I was totally psyched about our ability to restore the mantels and ultimately, to finish my practice project. I don't plan to do either on such an intense deadline, however.