Remodeling and Restoration

Page: 3

Removing Tiles: To remove tiles with grout try a heat gun or hair dryer and a putty knife. Should come up pretty easily. The Quick Grab will leave a reside, so you will have to sand it off.

Mary Kay Gentile in Ft. Myers, FL

Removing Super Glue Fume Haze: I made a miniature Christmas tree under a glass dome last year and put the dome on too soon and ended up with that haze, also. I removed it with rubbing alcohol. Rubbing alcohol also works on Plexiglass.


Painting previously painted surfaces without sanding: There is a product called "No Sand" or something like that and it is just used to dampen the surface of a painted or vanished surface and then you can paint. It works chemically to soften the previous finish so the paint will adhere. I have used it with great success on full size stuff, should work on minis. It is in the paint section of Walmart and home improvement places by various names.

Susan from St. Croix

Repairing furniture: There are several things involved in repairing broken furniture. Lots of time it is more work than making an entire new piece. I'll talk about PARTS in this email.

MISSING PARTS: Do you have the missing piece?

If YES, then examine the break and dry fit it together first to see how it fits. If the fit is satisfactory, then glue it together. Sometimes you may need to drill a fine hole and insert a pin or small dowel to help with the mend. I prefer a good wood glue for this but it depends upon what you are gluing. Metal parts require an epoxy or instant glue.

Remember TACKY and SOBO are flexible glues. They dry flexible so if the part needs strength, use something that dries more rigid.

If no, then you need to find something to take the place of that part. Can it be propped up say on some mini books to add to the charm of the setting, or something placed in front of the broken part so you don't see it? If it is upholstery, can a doily or throw be added to hide the missing part? If the answer is still no, then you need to manufacture a new part. Use one of the remaining pieces to make a new one. (Here's where previous furniture making helps.) Find a scrap of wood and use the good part as a pattern. Remember to look at it from all sides. Then you will have to saw, whittle, or file to get to that shape. Or you can substitute entirely new legs, for instance, all the way around.

FIT: If the piece doesn't fit together right, is it just a case of misalignment? If so, you MIGHT be able to take the piece apart and reglue. I've had good luck with NON METAL containing parts to nuke them in the microwave for 10-20secs and then be able to pull them apart. Some parts will come off with vinegar or alcohol but that might also destroy the finish.

If the part sticks out too far, as a drawer, examine it to see why. Is there an extra piece inside? Can the back be sanded? Can the bottom?. Now if there is a big gap that is a different story. Additions show up unless you redo the finish. I prefer to camouflage with leaving the drawer open, stuff flowing out. A piece of a shirt sticking out the drawer, a cat's tail. Anything to add life!

Shannon Moore

Fixing finish on furniture: Hope I didn't deluge too many with my last post on fixing furniture. Now for another installment on fixing the finish.

Is the finish "in one piece", that is - is the color consistent, no bare wood? If so and you don't like the color or the glossiness, there are several things that you can do. To dull it down, really helps not make it look so cheap, spray it lightly with a satin clear coat. I've gone to the trouble to use steel wool, pumice and rottenstone to work on the finish, but the quick and dirty method of spray usually does the trick. A coat or two of neutral shoe polish also does wonders to help out a finish. You can always take the polish off with mineral spirits (paint thinner).

Color? Is it wrong? You usually won't be able to re-stain it as the finish won't allow you to apply stain over it, but you can apply color on top of that finish. Painting it a wood color works. Painting it white and wiping off most of the paint works. Experiment. I've used white acrylic as a wipe-on with great results. I've used burnt umber and raw sienna oil paint wiped on as a glaze and it works. I apply these paints let them sit just a bit but not dry, and wipe off here and there to have the old finish show through. Also try some of the faux finishes--make that old dresser with a scuffed top now have a marbled top. Had to replace a leg on dresser? Make it have painted legs and sides with a natural wood top and natural drawers.

Remember also, that all acrylic paints aren't created equal either. Some have more pigment than others. There are mediums that can be added to let the paint flow as opposed to water that makes it bead.

"But I need to match in this new piece that I made." That's a trickier one. Hopefully you've kept a scrap of the SAME piece of wood or other material from which you made the extra part. You can try matching the stains, try wiping acrylic paint as if it were stain, use shoe polish on that spare material. I've done and tried it all, well maybe not all, heehee. Each piece is different. If you are trying to match that ugly shiny finish <grin>, remember there is finger nail polish that works. Also those stains that are in magic marker type tubes are great for this as it gives you more control and less mess.

Shannon Moore

Repainting wire wicker furniture: You could try sponge painting your wire wicker with acrylic paints. I didn't want the white-white, so used a couple different shades of ivory. I was really pleased with the results . . . gave it more of an antiquey look with no globs or shine. Practice, practice. . .


Try going over that with a dry brushing of gold or brown. Both give great affects.If anyone wants pics to see how that works I have some I can photo.

Anita MH

Ripping Up Sticky Back Carpet: I would hold an iron over it - pressing lightly in order to release the glue and then rip it up. You are going to have some clean up of the old glue but it shouldn't be too bad.


Modifying Doors: You can modify door openings easily if the door is not already installed- If you want the frame size to stay the same, pull out the top pin hinge, add your extra wood and test fit your new door. When you are satisfied, insert a new longer pin through the old hole in the frame, the new strip of wood, and into the door. Use trim to cover. If you don't care about the frame height, just pop off the top piece, trim the two sides down and re-glue the top back on after you test fit the door. If the door is already installed, it makes it a bit harder to do. Carefully pull out the old door and remove the pin hinges. (If the door doesn't come out easily, you may break the old door or the top part of the frame and repair.) Cut the new strip that will fit into the frame and test fit. When the door seems to fit OK, take out the new strip and use a saw to cut halfway back through the strip at the exact spot the hinge is to go. (you are cutting with your saw on the side of the board that will face the front) Glue the strip in. Next, take your door and put in a new pin at the bottom and top. Put the bottom pin down into the original pin hole at the bottom of the frame. Slide the top pin into the groove you cut into your new strip. Use a tiny scrap to wedge the pin into the center of the frame. Glue a trim piece over the area to hold the pin in place and cover your additional strip.

Bonnie Gibson, Tucson, Arizona

Removing Quik Grab: I have also found a wonderful new product!  This stuff really works!  It is called Premium stripper by Klean strip.  It is in an aerosol can- and has no fumes.  When I popped the shingles off the roof, the residue disappeared in less than 5 minutes.  We are talking down to the bare wood AND we are talking the dreaded Quik Grab glue here.   I sprayed it on the beautiful fan tail design, it took the varnish off in nothing flat.  This will be a piece of cake as long as I remember to wear gloves.


Doorways and windows too big: In response to your question about closing in your door and window openings. Have you been able to determine what the walls of the house are made of? I point this out that in order to be true to the original construction, you may want to make your fill panels out of the same material. My suggestion would to be to strip any openings of moldings, etc. Measure the opening and cut a blank panel to fill that opening. Now find the dimensions of your new door, or window and cut that opening into your "fill panel". Make sure that your panel and the existing walls are the same thickness. Glue and nail (toenail) the new panel into the opening. You can fill any cracks or voids with "plastic wood". Let dry for at least 24 hours or more than sand the new panel and the existing wall flush. You can now paint or wallpaper the repair. If care is taken in the fitting and sanding of the repair it should be almost impossible to detect.

Lloyd Cooper

Resize windows and doors: For the windows you could add shutters on the sides and flower box on the bottom.  Fill in the window with wood of the same thickness as the original, and then add these items.  That is if the house already has siding and you are trying to fill the hole.  If you are working with unfinished, just use the fill in wood.  The wallpaper covers it on the inside and the siding covers it on the outside.  For the door you can do the same.


Large windows: I filled the space with difference widths of balsa or basswood. The wallpaper and window trim covered it nicely on the inside and the siding covered it on the outside.  It really worked out well!


Removing Wallpaper: If your old paper is on really good (with Elmers it should be) just paint over it to hide the print, let dry and re paper. The TV decorator said today that we could paint over old paper in the big house so why not. It worked for me a couple of years back and everything is still up.


Removing Wallpaper: To remove your Elmer's glued wallpaper, use white vinegar. You can apply it with a damp sponge, sort of holding it in place allowing it to soak through the paper to the glue. Or you can put it in a spray bottle with about 4 parts warm water to 1 part vinegar and mist the wall with it, let it set for about 10 minutes, and tear/peel the paper off. Works great. This technique will work on regular wallpaper paste in big rooms too.

Anne Gerdes

Removing Wallpaper: Saturate the old wallpaper with water. It will come right off with a little help from a putty knife. I use a little spritzer bottle and a sponge. I just took off 30 year old wallpaper last Saturday. Won't hurt tapewire either but the putty knife might.

Mary Kay

Removing acrylic paint: The solvent for water based acrylic paint is methylated spirits. Try some in an inconspicuous area with extra fine steel wool or just a cloth.


Cracks, crazing and glitches...If your house or building has developed a few cracks, crazes or just glitches, I suggest making some of those stubborn vines and such that use these interesting ladders to climb walls... I had a few such blemishes in an older house and found that vines artfully stuffed into them made a fascinating addition to the whole. .. suddenly the entire building took on an air of quiet dignified age. . Give it a try, then stand back and stare at it. . .


Filling Gaps in Walls: My favorite material for filling gaps in walls is Squadron white putty, which is in a tube like tooth paste and is available from hobby shops. I recently taught a class where I recommended using the Squadron putty. Many people had trouble finding it, so I tried some alternatives. One of the easiest to get and most satisfactory was Sellys Skimcoat - the finest premixed filler (spackle) my local hardware shop had. It comes in a big tube, is cheap and easy to get hold of.

Sandra in New Zealand


We tend to think of saws as tools that must first penetrate the wood at one end of a line and then cut along that line.Unfortunately, once a room is assembled, there may not be room for some tools to fit and even when they do, we may start, only to have saw handles hit floors, walls, or other ceilings before the cut is finished. It is time to think outside the box. . .

X-acto and Zona offer "razor saws" in several sizes. (I far prefer Zona.) For those not familiar, a razor saw has teeth along one very straight edge of a rectangular blade. The opposite edge of the rectangle has a metal stiffener which culminates in either a fixed handle or a tang that can be fitted into a removable handle. It looks much like an old fashioned straight razor - hence the name. As you move the teeth along a line to be cut, the handle/stiffener is well above the cutting surface. This clearance is variable depending upon the particular razor saw. Some have a minimal (1/4") clearance. Others in my collection offer up to a 2" clearance.

Cutting out to enlarge an interior doorway, mark a line. Cut off or leave off the handle of your razor saw, grip it along the stiffener and guide it back and forth along the entire length of your line. This is easiest if you temporarily tack or brace a piece of scrap wood on the line to guide your saw against. Take your time (it will go slow) and let the saw do the cutting. You will end with a clean, straight cut right down to the floor line. If the saw stiffener starts bumping into the guide wood before you are all the way through, remove the guide wood. Once started, the groove will be your guide.

Your groove cut MAY go beyond where it has to be if you are going to recover the wall(s) anyhow. After all cuts are done and the unwanted wood removed, simply glue a thin piece of basswood (1/32" sanded down to fit) into the extended cuts and sandpaper flush.

I have cut the handle tangs off of the blade stiffeners on a couple of saws to work in confined areas. I have also used Dremel abrasive discs to cut down a couple of old saws to smaller (shorter) sizes. A step beyond razor saws are "Japanese" saws. Check these out at a high end woodworker's specialty store or in the hardware stores of Asian ethnic communities. These saws usually have no stiffeners but the teeth are arranged to cut in the "pull" rather than "push" direction. A specialty blade within this category has a gentle curve, so starting a cut involves only a few teeth. As the cut progressively goes deeper and the groove becomes established, more and more of the saw teeth are used.

One more tidbit. When I can get it into place, I far prefer routing rather than sawing. Using straightedge guides I get neater, more precise cuts with a router. Doing a doorway I can not get down to the floor but usually can do the horizontal cut of a doorway plus beginning the vertical cuts which then may be finished with a Japanese saw.

Mel Koplin, Las Vegas, NV

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