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Binford5k 11-19-2012 12:53 PM

Pickeld oak strip and refinish
I would like to install new natural oak flooring but have 20 something pickled oak banisters. Anyone have luck refinishing old pickled oak railings?

jsheridan 11-19-2012 05:17 PM

I think you need to be a bit more specific Binford. Are you trying to bleach out the pickling for the natural look? And are you talking ballusters and newel posts or handrails? I recently did a job where we needed to match a clear coated only white oak railing system to match a new red oak floor. We determined it would be cheaper to tear out and replace with a red oak system and just clear coat that. It was only a standard new construction railing system, but stripping detailed newel posts, turned spindles, and all the handrails, with all the difficult angles to get to a stain ready condition, difficult to do, was too costly. And after all that we would have to hope that what we did would match the floor. I said paint it or replace it. They choose replacement, one part of a much larger job, and the results were perfect.
Are you of Binford tools?

jsheridan 11-19-2012 05:21 PM

2 Attachment(s)
Not the best illustration, but
Every bit of that staircase is new work, and a new design, except the stringers. This was a great job. If you look in the next room, the ceiling is coffered with the blue on the ceiling, only in flat.

user1007 11-19-2012 06:02 PM

Nice work for a guy that has no doubt been wrestling a dolphin out of his living room the past couple of weeks? I guess Cape May did better than some areas.

As far as stripping old oak. As I have posted before your goal should be to minimize heat that might melt finish currently in place into the grain. So you start with the method that creates the least. I am surprised at how often I can strip most of an old oak staircase with just a very sharp pull type and contour scraper set. Then sand paper.

Chemical strippers are a possibility but remember they generate heat that can force melted finish into the grain. I used in woman in Central Illinois that did near nothing but strip old wood. She had a really cool system that separated the paint from the solvents and chemicals so she could reuse them to a point. Do be careful with strippers as they themselves can cause severe discoloration. The old types had fumes that were highly explosive and could travel along the floor to pilot lights. Many can cause serious skin irritation or even burns. Of course lye was once used a furniture stripper. This time of year it is hard to find because so many people are making lutefisk.

I will hype infrared strippers again but they are only partially helpful on ornate spindles and things.

One trick I learned from old timers was to strip as much as you possible could and then coat everything with shellac. Let it dry. If you were lucky it would stick to most any finish that was going to come loose hiding in the grain. Strip it all off with a light coating of liquid stripper. Refinish.

By all means try a small section first to see if you can possibly achieve what you have in mind before stripping everything. I have seen people spend days stripping finish from soft woods like pine and fir, and even oak, only to find years of finishes had stained the wood so deeply they would have had to use to dark a blending stain to make it look decent.

jsheridan 11-19-2012 07:06 PM

Sandy barely touched us. Don't get me wrong, she came through all right. I'm not on an island. I didn't evacuate, and it sounded like freight trains rumbling down my street. But she showed us her left front quadrant, which is not nearly as devasting. She came onshore between Sea Isle City and Atlantic City, which put us left of her center, with the much devastated areas north of here right of her center, which is the part of the storm that packs the wallop. She was originally thought to be going to make a left turn and come up the Delaware Bay, which is at the end of my street, right of her center. My house would have been splinters. That's the second bullet, as with Irene, that we dodged. I'm afraid our luck might soon run out. So, no dolphin wrestling for me.

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