Repair Advice Sought for Stripped Cabinet Doors
I’d like to get some advice and opinions on making repairs to kitchen cabinet doors.
Some of the defects appear to have been induced by the paint stripper itself.
After a brutally laborious effort at stripping the paint off twelve cabinet doors I got about 3/4 finished and took a long break … now I want to bust out the last bit of stripping, repair damaged areas, and ready the doors for finishing with primer and paint (Benjamin Moore #217 alkyd primer + INSL-X Cabinet Coat satin white … unless I have good reason to switch to an acrylic primer). The cabinets are built-in and have already been completed and painted.
Here’s the background on the stripping:
I do not dismiss the idea that I am insane. Insane or not the show must go on.
It’s a little like I imagine chemotherapy to be: you remove the bad stuff but damage some good stuff in the process.
The cabinets are 90 years old and they’ve been deeply abused over the decades and covered in dozens of coats of paint, the oldest are oil and last half a century of latex/acrylic. Besides brutal scrapping the only stripper even approaching the notion of effective results has been Peel Away 1. Peel Away 1 has typically needed at least two thick applications to get much of the paint off, or to get it down where I can scrape and Methylene Chloride. Methylene chloride is slow going and it takes multiple coats with very little penetration per application. All of this in combination with a lot of scraping. The scraping is most effective after the latex/acrylic layers have been removed … as the oil layers are more brittle and scrape more easily … but is brutal work. I’m someone with strong hands but felt as if I was damaging my hands at one point from brute overuse (could be arthritis setting in?). Bottom line is that there’s no easy way to strip off that much paint for a DIY project.
Again, the Peel Away 1 was the only stripper that had a fighting chance. The problem however is that along with doing a so so job of stripping it appears to have also damaged some of the doors… it’s had an effect I’m not used to and I have to conclude that the stripper penetrated the wood and attacked the glue in the panels creating numerous checks and splits and also some rough raised areas (in some panels there are small splits all over the surface of the panel). The panels seem to have been made from thin veneer/ply … and the rails and stiles themselves seem to have been constructed with a veneer. The damage on the panels resembles forensic photos of knife wounds in flesh where both sides pull away from each other under tension and form ‘lips’. I’m thinking of using a scraper/sander to remove the high spots, then surface the panels with Bondo worked in with a plastic spreader or wide putty knife to fill the gaps, and sand it back when it’s dry. Btw a suggestion was made to use Timbermate wood filler, any advantages to that over Bondo (other than ease of sanding)?
The other damage is to the rails and stiles (art looks as if they too are surfaced with a veneer). The main damage to rails and stiles is cracks and gaps at the joints. The big wide gaps I plan to fill with Bondo, but I’m not sure how to fix areas that have split or delaminated veneers. Any suggestions? Btw, the damage to inside surface of the doors I’m not that concerned with as it’ll be out of view 99% of the time.
I’m looking for some feedback on my plan of attack (war metaphors are a perfect fit for a project such as this) and alternative suggestions. Don’t suggest throwing the doors away and fabricating new ones as it’s too late for that : )
Lastly, I have a full size swinging door that I stripped and painted three years ago. In the past year and a half I’ve noticed some splitting occurring in the panel and also in the lower rail (photos are in my following post). Apparently both of these areas look to have surface veneers … I’d never have imagined the stiles to have veneers on them. On the rail (see pic) I was thinking of cutting out the delaminated section of veneer and gluing in a replacement plug and perhaps also using some Bondo or wood filler. The door’s panel checking I’ll probably not repair at this time and wait for it to get a little worse.
Thanks for any ideas.
[PS: the final thing I’ll need to do is source new hinges. I’ve looked, asked, and posted but have been unable to locate ANY leaf hinges that match the dimensions and hole pattern of the hinges on these doors. Nothing. So to increase my headaches I’ll need to perhaps redo the mortices for the hinges and also deal with the old hinge screw holes. No, it never ends!]
1st & 2nd show outside of door’s deep checks, slitting to panel veneer, plus numerous micro checks.
3rd & 4th show multiple checks in veneer on interior side of doors.
5th, 6th, 7th, & 8th show damage to joints, gaps, and some rail/stile veneer damage
9th & 10th show panel veneer’s massive micro checking and raised surface, and rail/stile veneer damage. These pics show door's interior face so it'll be hidden from view 99% of the time and thus not as critical.
Last edited by Lovegasoline; 09-25-2019 at 10:24 PM.