Now that I'm about to start my whole-house siding replacement project I'm going to take the plunge and buy a "Paint Shaver" (http://www.paintshaver.com) so I can strip the exterior beams and stain them to match the interior beams which I previously had stripped with a combination of chemical strippers and a belt sander. (I don't want to ever do that again.)
So the question is---
1) I was unable to find a place that will rent this tool-- has anyone ever found a place in the bay area that will rent a paint shaver? It's pretty expensive and I can't imagine using it very frequently so it would be nice to be able to rent it.
2) Does anyone have any experience with this tool and could offer some advice on using it to strip Eichler beams? I've often found with any new tool that I figure out how to use it properly after the project is done.
See Barry Brisco's May 16 posting on "Eicher Remodeling Photos" where he links to his excellent website describing his remodeling project. On his website Barry discusses how he used the Paint Shaver (with photos) and that is where I first heard about this device, although I couldn't find it in Canada. I posted a reply about my experience with Smart Strip paint remover too (probably the next best alternative).
A friend lent me a paint shaver and I shaved all the beams in my house. Next summer I will do the outside beams and seal them with a clear weatherproof sealer. We decided (for now) not to stain them as the natural look is growing on us.
In order to have a good experience with the paint shaver, you also need a high quality vacuum to capture the paint and wood chips. I used 4 tools to do it efficiently.
1. Shave the beam on all three sides. This leaves the beam quite fuzzy. Roughly at a 10 grit level and you can't completely avoid the round plunge marks that the shaver leaves. I am a natural with wood working tools and even with a careful, even pressure and tracking of the shaver, you will still get deep swirls and gouging here and there.
2. Using a random orbital sander with cheap hook/loop pads and vacuum, I was able to carefully get most of the last 1/2 inch of paint off of the beam near the ceiling. You must leave this strip of paint while using the shaver or you will shave gouges into the ceiling boards which is nearly impossible to fix. This was a porter cable sander and only th eouter edge of the sanding discs were used, at about a 45 degee angle. This made the next step very fast.
3. Using a fancy German FEIN triangle sander, remove the rest of the last 1/4 to 1/8 inch of paint right up to the ceiling boards.
4. Then using a different fancy German (Festool) random orbital sander and dustless vacuum, you start with 50 grit and end up at 120, or whatever makes you happy.
I did one beam at a time before starting the next so that I had continous rewards of fresh, smooth beams to keep myself motivated to finish. I originally started the finish sanding step with only the porter cable sander and a rigid vacuum and realized it was too slow and too noisy to do the entire job so I splurged on the Festool sander and vacuum package which saved time and made the job more enjoyable. With this system, you don't really need earplugs and hardly need a mask.
To anyone who is contemplating this task, I strongly recommend painting one beam in a wood color to see if you could be satisfied with the result. While I don't have any regrets and I love the look of the naked beams, it is still A LOT OF WORK, even with the paint shaver. It probably took me about 12 days of 3-4 hours per day. If you can live with 80 grit and some unsightly markings from the shaver, it could be a coupe days less.
Its a lot like running a marathon. The beginning is fun. The middle lasts for ever, and the end is painful but at least there is an end in sight.
Thanks, this was exactly the kind of detailed information I was looking for. It's too bad that the fancy German triangle sander, the fancy German random orbital sander, and the fancy German dust collection system that goes with it add an additional $1000 of tool investment on top of the $700 paint shaver. I was hoping to get away with my decidedly not fancy or German Makita random orbital sander and Rigid shop-vac.
I guess the bottom line is that between the time the job takes and the capital investment in tools you have to really, really want stripped beams.
I read your email about the Paint Shaver and I am wondering if you ended up bying one and if so whether it was worth the investement? And if you still have it, would you be willing to rent it to me? I live in the Greenmeadow neighborhood in Palo Alto.
If I may ask, what was the issue you had with the chemicals? A friend of mine also has exposed beams and he stripped his using a can of Jasco and a stiff bristle brush in order to preserve the wood grain. Granted, his method left some of the white from the paint, and he wound up having to stain them darker than he would have liked.
I ask because I'm about to strip my beams using his method, so I'd love to hear of any issues you encountered.