The Nightstand Nightmare Continues

Sander_3I think it's safe to say that I will not be stripping furniture anytime soon. I had previously bought a wash to try to get off the remainder of the stripper. It didn't seem to work. On Friday, I stopped quickly at Home Depot to purchase a power sander. I decided THIS was the answer to my nightstand prayers.

Let me start off by saying that a power sander is not something to be used in an apartment. I couldn't resist--I am THAT desperate to get this project done. I wanted this project to be a part of the Apartment Therapy "January Jumpstart" contest, but alas, that will not be the case.

Facemask_2This is a classic case of my impatience getting the better of me. If I had thought through the project from the beginning, at least I would have been more prepared and allowed sufficient time. As it stands, this has been ongoing since early December. This Saturday was no exception. I realized as I read the sander directions that I didn't have a face mask. Instead of going out and buying one, I made one out of an old sock, binder clips, and a rubber band. NOT NIOSH approved.

I sanded and I sanded. It was quite the project. As it turns out, sanding creates a LOT of dust--imagine that. So, I needed a face mask. I won't go into details, but my nose revealled that my sock didn't do quite what an actual face mask would. In addition to my nose, it also covered my entire bedroom. Witness these pictures:

Dust entire bedroom was covered with red dust that I needed to clean. I spent more time on Saturday cleaning up after sanding than I did in the sanding itself. I vacuumed and washed the walls and floors down. I changed the Murphy's Oil Soap water about five times. The optimist take on this is that at least I won't have to do spring cleaning!

At least now, I have a surface that I can go about staining. I did have some surprises. For example, I found out certain parts were made of veneer and not solid mahogany when I sanded away most of the veneer. I found that other parts were plywood, while still others were some other kind of wood (for the detail parts). See the progression in pictures below--from the thrift store find (which, right now, ain't lookin' so bad), the stripper, partially stripped wood, the partially stripped nightstand with materials sitting for weeks, and finally the sanded piece.


I thought I could also stain, but that is going to have to wait until next weekend. If you are going to strip furniture, here are some tips:

  • Find a professional (this is what I'd do!)

  • If you can, make it an outdoor job.

  • You'll need: gloves, stripper, a brush to apply the stripper, rags, a scraper and perhaps a wire or nylon brush, a scrubber/steel wool and sandpaper, and either the wash that the stripper company makes or water in a spray bottle. Also: safety first--buy safety goggles and a face mask.

  • The company that made my stripper (Ready Strip) makes a fast-acting stripper. I'd try that. The one I used takes up to 24 hours to cure. They also make a "pro" version--stronger, but still takes time to cure.

  • Plan for how much stripper you'll need.

  • Only start if you can strip it when it's ready. And, plan to spend time stripping and scrubbing the remainder off. I let mine dry too long and it made it difficult to get off.

  • If you do get a power sander, do make sure it has dust removal. Mine did, and I can only imagine how much dust there would have been without it. Again, NOT an indoor job!

I think I've made my disdain for this whole thing pretty clear. I cannot wait to have my nightstand finished!!!


  1. Ohhhhh, I feel your pain. I tried to strip a couple of pieces on my back porch in Alexandria...and, it was about 95 degrees out. Between the fumes & the heat, I just about lost it.


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