Stripping the Exterior Varnish

wash stand front beforeWashstand Project 2015

finished left side interior

The inside is done.  Phew!  The outside was comparatively quick.  It isn’t painted; it’s varnished.  And varnish is decidedly easier to strip!  The technique is exactly the same but varnish softens more quickly.  A good coat of stripper, a wipe-off with the ole’ sport sock, a decent hand-sanding, and presto magico!

The photos below give a nice pictorial of my efforts.

I started with all the narrow wood strips on the front. Here is the top.

outer top front before  outer top front2 outer top front3

outer top front4 outer top front after

Here is the drawer support ledge.

drawer support before drawer support2 drawer support after

Here is the bottom.

bottom front before bottom front2 bottom front3

bottom front4 bottom front5 bottom front after

I am not including the side supports (the legs) because they are just a continuation of the same.

But I do want to show you the back underside.  It is not an area seen unless you are close to the floor, but the legs on this stand are reasonably tall, and this back space was reasonably hideous, so I had to tidy it up a bit!  I am not going to paint it, but I just couldn’t leave those paint drips.

back underside before back underside2 back underside after

In the last photo you can see the shim repairs done at the very beginning.  They still need to be anchored.

The outer side panels were pretty straightforward, as was the top.

right side before  right side after

left side before  left side after

top before top after

A quick note on wood fillers… When you anticipate painting, don’t dig out the filler.  After all, it is making the surface smooth for paint.  Much of my own experience in my home has been stripping old mouldings and refinishing them in their natural colour so it was imperative to get that ugly stuff out of there.  Not so here.

So I left these as they were.  I just gave them a nice sanding.

wood filler1 wood filler2

The last area to strip was the back.  As is virtually always the case, the back wood was not finished and no special care was taken to preserve its state.  It had scrawls all over it, paint attempting to cover the scrawls, and the furniture maker’s stamps.  I believe this wash stand was made in Victoriaville, Quebec, by the Victoriaville Furniture Company, active in the early to mid 1900s.  I think the stamped “The Victorian” refers to the style of this washstand.

back before the victorian stamp victoriaville stamp back after

One more “aside” – I am always so-o-o impressed by workmanship. Just look at this joinery.joining technique

The outside is ready.

full front after full front after full top after

The main frame is ready for a couple of minor repairs, then on to the primer!


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