Reading about Paul Hirsch’s discovery that joint compound will remove wallpaper paste reminded me of the time back in 1960 when I made a similar discovery. I was a struggling jack-of-all-trades down in Florida, and I’d take any job to survive. One dubious endeavor was to strip the paint off a pair of church doors. They were 4 ft. wide, 9 ft. tall and made of 4-in. thick cypress. They were deeply carved on both sides with the faces of saints, and the paint job probably went back to Ponce deLeon.
One night while fighting a deadline, I ran out of steel wool and rags. In desperation I flooded one of the panels with paint stripper and let it soak for a few minutes. Then I spread out a 1-in. thick layer of sawdust and worked it across the panels and into the crevices with a scrub brush. The results were amazing. The sawdust absorbed the paint, speeding the job fourfold.
I use a bristle or brass brush on woodwork or antiques — a steel wire brush will ruin a nice piece of wood. I prefer the runny types of paint stripper (they’re cheaper too). If the brush starts to plug up, throw on more sawdust. I’ve used this method to strip picture frames, fancy baseboards, trim and carved furniture, all with good results.
Clyde R. Kennedy, Rushville, OH