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topic 10462

Refinishing Steel furniture


Q. I'm looking for info on refinishing a steel dresser. Almost all of the paint has been removed. What grit Sandpaper [linked by editor to product info at Rockler] should be used? Also, what type wax or polishing agent and how do I seal it?

Lisa Keefer
- Wilkes-barre, Pennsylvania


A. I'm sorry but I'm not fully following. You want to get the rest of the paint off and keep it looking like bare steel by lacquering it?

Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey


Q. Actually, the goal of the refinishing effort is to strip the steel dresser to bare metal, then sand or 0000 steel wool [linked by editor to product info at Rockler] the surfaces to a uniform appearance, and seal or similarly protect the surface from corrosion (rust).

The real underlying questions are:

1. What is an acceptable sealant for reconditioned steel dressers (wax, lacquer, polyresin, other)?
2. What is the best method to go from painted steel to bare steel (i.e., steps of sanding)
3. Is polishing an acceptable method of preservation?

This dresser is a 20's or 30's model, art deco style, probably used in a hotel or hospital.

Lisa Keefer [returning]
- Wilkes-barre, Pennsylvania


Q. I would like to hear the answer to the question too. Especially the final finish, or sealer suggestion that would keep rust at bay.

Lori Roop
- Kennbunk, Maine USA


A. Hi, Lisa and Lori. The question has been answered as letter 26176.

But you're not likely to like the answer because because it's not very good news. Sorry :-(

Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey


Dremel Kit

A. First, ah, make sure you're outside and that your mess can be cleaned-up and won't offend your neighbors, right. Now, finish removing all of the paint (Auto Stripper and special hint: allow the piece to heat up in the sun prior to stripper application). Follow the directions on the can - don't sniff! Next, remove all the junk and clean with thinner and scouring pad. Let dry in the sun. Next: scrape, gouge, wire brush, Dremel [linked by editor to product info at Amazon], sand etc. all remaining paint. THEN, start sanding. The rougher the paper: the shinier the metal. Try a scouring pad on a small section - you'll figure it out.

Alright, now clean the metal again. This time with MEK / methyl ethyl ketone (I hope you've been wearing: Protective Gloves [linked by editor to product info at Amazon], (several pair) jeans, an apron [linked by editor to product info at Amazon], long sleeves, a hat, goggles [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] ) get every oil mark off of it. Then quickly wrap in stretch plastic wrap. Now, you can take some time and decide how you want to seal it. Furniture wax is cool - have seen some awesome results. The wax needs to be applied several times, buffed. etc. etc. Then re-applied every so often. Or, you lacquer, varnish, seal etc. Painting (badly), sanding, wiping clean, sanding, wiping, painting, sanding, wiping, painting, etc. etc. fart. etc. Until you are so mad at trying to refinish the coolest piece of furniture ever re-finished, you cry: "I so Lame! ... Or, you take the piece to your neighborhood powder-coater and beg them to help you. Probably the best choice. Cool finishes - matte-to-high-gloss. Can be expensive ($80 Min), but it's the best, easiest way to keep it from rusting. Good Luck - It's fun.

Your Idol, JJW

- Ventura, California

June 2015

thumbs up signThanks JJ ... but somehow it's hard to picture someone in goggles, rubber apron, gloves, hat, and wearing several pair of pants on top of each other as my idol :-)


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

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