Stripped doors in Edinburg (experience; long)

Hi all
Don't know if this might benefit somebody sometime, but here's my experience with dipped timber doors.
We had nine large wooden doors (pine?) varying in age and condition. Most are probably late 1800s or early 1900s. I could be wrong, but this is my guess. Anyway, they are all pretty solid and heavy.
Deciding to remove the paint, we elected to have them dipped in caustic (dip and strip, in Edinburgh) to remove the many layers of paint that had been applied over the decades. They did an excellent job, "cracking" the beading/mouldings slightly so the paint in the corners was exposed and stripped away. As far as we could make out, they had done as they said they would: applied some sort of neutralising agent and then powerjet blasted them with water. As it happens, the job was big enough for them to collect and deliver back the same day. They took pretty good care of the doors, in terms of transport and placing them back where we asked them to be. We drew a sketch plan of our apartment, numbering each door and using a nail to mark the top (unseen) edge to give us a quick reference of where each door should go back.
A bonus was taking all the hinges off and the door-strippers put them in with the doors to strip them of paint too. As soon as I got these back I scrubbed them with wire wool for a good clean, thoroughly dried them, and sprayed them with CRC (why I don't know but they haven't rusted). In contrast, our neighbours at the suggestion of the door-strippers, left their hinges on and they've got quite rusty hinges now. OK, so taking hinges off is a real effort, and it's a bit of a detective game (with a solution I might add!) to match the right ones to the right doors, but that's just part of the job in my opinion. Of course, we removed all the handles and metal bits before dipping.
We left the doors in the shade while we went on holiday, carefully separated to allow the air to get to them. That was two weeks slow drying. We added another two to three weeks of slow drying to that again. The result was that our doors, for this or other reason(s), didn't warp or shrink. Well, at least we haven't noticed anything like this (yet?) :O) Also, probably due to the neutralising and good hosing-down with water, we haven't had any residue issues.
After much research we settled on a light but careful coat of shellac (non cellulose - not sure why) sanding-sealer on the dry doors. One thing to watch with this was making sure excess shellac is wiped away (or blended into the area) pretty much immediately to avoid stains (we have a few on the first couple of doors I did).
Once the shellac was dry, I carefull sanded down the entire door with quite fine sandpaper. For those who have not done this before, it's a process that is much easier than "normal" sanding in some respects -- it's very easy to get a lovely smooth surface from the sealed wood. Getting into any moulding/beading details is a bit of a fiddle, but you get there. Thanks to my enthusiasm in one area, I got a very deep splinter in my finger (what a relief to have it removed!)
So, tips for sanding: 1. Wear a mask, as sanding shellac results in very fine particles indeed, which I'm sure warrant avoiding. 2. Go easy and methodical with the sanding (according to the surface) as you could end up with splinters aplenty! 3. Sand parallel to the grain avoids noticable scratchmarks across the grain.
Following the sanding, a good dusting-down with a clean cloth (striking the surface helped clean the cracks and holes) removed most of the dust. Then I applied wax to the surface, rubbing it in parallel to the grain, followed by a buff with a clean dry cloth when dry.
The results were pretty pleasing, especially considering the beating and processes these doors have now endured.
The shellac "sanding sealer" I used was a generic-brand product and cost around 25 incl. VAT for 5 litres. That did nine doors -- it's quite amazing how fast one goes through it, so go easy in the beginning until you've got enough data to keep an eye on your usage. Smaller quantities of this stuff are quite expensive. I figure that most people would need less than I did, but wouldn't end up paying a lot less.
The wax I used was "Briwax" clear. I had heard/read people saying that the clear Briwax left white in the cracks and corners but must say that I haven't seen this in my experience at all. Maybe this is leftover residue from the shellac sanding? I don't know. Could also be the fact that small holes just end up being filled with the wax, and if one is using a coloured wax, this doesn't show up quite as much as the dull-waxy white of the clear stuff. That said, this isn't white as in toothpaste by any means, and is next-to-invisible in the scheme of things. Of course, big holes might be different!
I got the Briwax at a clearance sale but would have paid full price for it if I needed to. It's a really good product, and I'll use it again. It's true that I haven't had experiences with any other products in this space, so I'll keep an open mind in that area, but Briwax exceeded our expectations for the job.
For those who haven't applied Briwax or similar to wood, it's a little bit like smearing lard or something similar to the wood, in that it's not hard as candle-wax yet not fluid or liquid at all like varnish or honey. I had no idea what it was going to be like before I got the Briwax, and would have been better equipped for preparation if I'd have known this ahead of time (I didn't need a fine, good quality brush, for example).
Lastly, if the fittings you have (plates that go on the closing edgle of the door), small slider locks, etc., are solid brass, sanding the paint off them with very very fine sandpaper has proved to be a really good way of removing the paint from them and giving them a lovely appearance. Of course, your milage may vary (it's a bit of a Zen activity), and you would be well-advised to try the back of one first before launching into it big-time.
Well, that's it. I'll try and answer any questions if there are any!
Cheers
Robin
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