Painting Furniture

Really!? Is painting geeky or salty?  Not exactly.  But this post is a follow-up to Do It Yourself: Aquarium Stand, in which I built an aquarium stand with a lot of help from my father.  At the end of that post, I described painting it.  Turns out, you don’t really want to take furniture painting advice from a home improvement warehouse.  So, I’ll be describing how to fix a piece of expensive, home-built furniture, after it’s been painted wrong.

Aquarium Stand Close-up

Aquarium Stand Close Up

The advice that I was originally given was to paint the aquarium stand using water-based latex paint.  Again, this advise came from the helpful paint counter person at a local home improvement warehouse.  The latex paint never did dry.  We finished painting originally on January 1st, 2010.  I gave it until February, hoping it would actually dry.  Even in February, you could put your finger in the paint and get a finger-print to stay.

I then tried covering the latex paint with a coat of clear water based acrylic urethane.  This probably would have worked in most cases, but in my project the clear coat was bubbling in the detail.  That, plus brush strokes, resulted in a veto from Mrs. Salty Geek.  A few more discussions of cinder-block aquarium stands later, and I decided it was time to start over.

Aquarium Stand Repainted

Aquarium Stand Repainted

It took 2 months to strip all the paint back off of the project.  As expected, the worst part was the detail work.  I used paint stripper for the entire cabinet.  I applied the paint stripper to a small section of the project, waited about 15 minutes, and then scraped the black gooey mess off with a putty knife.  The putty knife doesn’t work so well with intricate rope, however, so I used a small wire brush about the size of a toothbrush instead.

Just as I was finishing, my parents happened to come to town.  After lots of discussion of how to paint the cabinet a second time, we finally got some advice from someone that’s done a lot of painting wood: Herb, who is one of the airplane prop builders at the Wings of History Museum in San Martin, California.  It turns out the trick is automotive paint!  Herb even offered us the use of his paint booth. My father scooped me on the painting process in his blog, so I’ll let you read the painting details there.  As it turns out, the first weekend of paint wasn’t enough, so we actually spent another day (3 days in total) in the museum paint booth.

Aquarium Stand with Rally Stripes

Aquarium Stand with Rally Stripes

Painting the aquarium stand was actually a lot of fun.  Hot, smelly, and expensive – but fun non the less.  So, I’m thinking I might do just a bit more painting on the cabinet.  Since I’m painting it with automotive paint, I might as well add automotive details too!  Flames are a little out of fashion now, so I’m thinking some nice bright yellow Rally Stripes might look good.  See the artist’s rendition of what it will look like to the right.

5 Responses

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  1. MrsSaltyGeek

    Yeaaa we all know what i will say about rally stripes :)

    It has turn out very nice!

  2. Wow, your sure when through a tough time trying to get that painted the way you wanted and painted just right. The pictures look great. You did a fantastic job. There is nothing better then the feeling of doing a job well done.

  3. Oh yes, good idea. Nova yellow!

    1. Don’t forget Jeep yellow…

  4. Tom

    Great looking stand. Love the addition of the yellow racing stripes.

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