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Seeing Red

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Seeing Red

Postby jsm » 23 Nov 2016, 01:36

50 year old pine staircase:

4 coats of paint and 1 of primer stripped during last couple of months. Working my way down (around family and dog) and have rough sanded and varnished 3 stairs. I'm not interested in a silky smooth finish, I'm going through 40, 60 and 120 grit abrasives using a 1/2 sheet, a 1/3 sheet and a delta sander. I'm not too fussed about the odd dusty, grotty scratch, nail hole or paint filled pit; they're all 'character' and anyway, I can't be bothered doing more than an hour a day with machines that are killing the nerves in my hands but...... 4 days now! 4 days of twice my allotted time with the machines on just 1 stair tread! I didn't appreciate just how badly things had gone until following the first day and seeing it in the morning light of a November sunshine. The poor artificial light from the bulb just off the top of the stairs the evening beforehand had not shown the ruddy mess I had made in all its cherry-red glory. I had assumed that I was just having an 'off day' when my abrasive papers had clogged rapidly but I changed them and carried on regardless. Stupid!!

When I saw how red the tread had become I realised that it was the same hue as the (cheap brand) aluminium oxide paper I was using so I waited for the rather more expensive fabric backed stuff to arrive by post. In the meantime, I worked through quite a number of (black) silicone carbide coated delta sheets which went a good way into removing the red but before they'd abraded as deeply as the red had penetrated, they began to leave a black tinge in the wood.

I've turned down the speed for as long as I dare on my 1/3 sheet sander (manufacturer does not recommend anything but full speed to preserve the life of the motor) and vacuumed (to help declog) the abrasive on that and my other, slower (much more 'vibraty') machines but the particularly resinous nature of this tread seems determined to absorb the colour from the papers even long before the wood or the paper are warm to the touch and long before (I think) the resin should be melting.

So finally, my questions; is there any way I can neutralise the resin to stop the bleed from paper to pine? I've tried meths. Is there anything that can 'bleach out' (bleach doesn't work) the red? I've got other things I'd rather do than sand by hand so I'd appreciate any nuggets of wisdom you may offer, particularly since I've taken a look at the grain patterns in a couple of the other stairs and I think I might face the same problem with those; I know I said I don't mind a bit of 'character' on this project but aluminium oxide red is not part of that.

I do hope you can help. Thanks in anticipation, JSM
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Re: Seeing Red

Postby Mike G » 23 Nov 2016, 08:50

Wewlcome to the forum, JSM.

Have you tried scraping? That sanding malarky seems like an awful lot of time and effort to me. I'd have at least tried a blade early on to see what that could achieve. In fact, I'd try almost anything other than sanding paint! Have you considered dis-assembling the stairs altogether and passing it through a planer/ thicknesser before re-building? :lol:
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Re: Seeing Red

Postby chataigner » 23 Nov 2016, 09:37

Blow lamp and scraper ?
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Re: Seeing Red

Postby Robert » 23 Nov 2016, 11:00

Having decorated our hall, stairs and landing recently I feel your pain. The preparation is not fun.

A lot of mine had to be hand sanded. Some could be power sanded and for that I mostly used my random orbital sander and a mouse type sander for the corners. I bought some Mirka stearated discs from ebay. They are specially made for sanding paint. The stearate coating resists clogging. You do need to fit an extraction hose to constantly remove the dust. You can extend the life of the discs by removing any clogging with an abrasive belt cleaner whilst the sander is running - http://www.screwfix.com/p/titan-abrasive-belt-cleaner-76mm/16210 . It won't remove really burnt on clogs though.

I did do a fair bit of scraping in the corners too but with a big old chisel not a cabinet scraper.

So I'd suggest paint stripper (may not be practical with kids etc around) or a heat gun if it is as thick as you say then use abrasives made for paint removal and from a good brand like Mirka or Norton.
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Re: Seeing Red

Postby Tusses » 23 Nov 2016, 11:03

could you veneer and trim them, or thin ply etc ?
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Re: Seeing Red

Postby jsm » 23 Nov 2016, 11:28

Thanks for the replies so far.

I'm afraid I did a poor job of explaining myself.

All the paint is off, that was a dead easy job (using an 'eco' paint stripper) and I'm back to bare pine. The grain pattern on this particular stair tread appears to me to be from a part of a plank which was working its way towards a nice big knot and I'm supposing that even after being down for 50 years, there's still a lot of resin in there and it's this that's clogging the sandpaper, soaking up the red colour from that before smearing it back into the grain and staining it.

I can't think of any way to stop this happening apart from slowing down the sanding process to prevent the resin from melting but as I said, I've got other things to do than sand by hand.

Aaarrgh!
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Re: Seeing Red

Postby Tusses » 23 Nov 2016, 11:40

if you think it's an over heating problem, then just keep the sander moving ? try "knot" to keep in one spot for too long
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Re: Seeing Red

Postby Robert » 23 Nov 2016, 11:53

Are you using dust extraction? That would pull most of the dust away before it spread.

It's sounding like you would be better off with a cabinet scraper. have a look on youtube if you are not familiar with how they work. It is more like a plane than a wallpaper scraper in how it works and will remove stuff quite quickly.
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Re: Seeing Red

Postby Rod » 23 Nov 2016, 12:03

If you are down to bare pine why are you still sanding?
I'd be tempted to paint with aluminium primer and denib.

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Re: Seeing Red

Postby jsm » 23 Nov 2016, 16:48

Thanks again for your ongoing replies.

It's only in my most despairing, sweary moments that I threaten the staircase with a coat of paint but that's not what I wanted to do with this project. I'm going for a distressed natural pine colour (mostly because I can't be bothered getting right down to silky, smooth timber by removing every speck of paint and white wood filler) upon which I'm slapping a couple of coats of clear matt varnish. Gawd, it was easier to strip the walls of artex than it is to sand this one problem tread. While I was waiting for the bread to rise I started sanding the next stair down and that, happily, is co-operating and remaining quite golden - hopefully, the bread will be the same when I go get it out of the oven in a tick.
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Re: Seeing Red

Postby RogerS » 24 Nov 2016, 19:09

I think it is the heat from the sanding that is softening the resin in the old knot. I'd do what Mike G suggests and sand round it but use a scraper ...a sharp chisel works fine..but only when the resin has hardened...don't rush it.give it quite a few days. It needs to be brittle.
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