What a crock

So I stole borrowed a few old gate hinges from my dad’s workroom about a year ago, because I’m a thief I knew that my shed project was looming and they’re just the thing for the hinges on the door. Except they’re covered in gobs of old paint.

I could’ve painted over, I suppose. But our position on renovation has become taking things down to the bone, then bringing them back up. That’s thanks to our habit of renovating poorly maintained 100-year-old houses, I think. It means more work on the front end, but it leads to better results and an exponential level of satisfaction in the job.

A few years ago, we had a professional painter take a look at the thick, cracked and failing paint on the clapboard sides of our house. He tried a few new chemical strippers and then told us that grinding the stuff off the old-fashioned way was the only practical alternative. “I can get three layers down, and then it hits a white coat that will NOT come off,” he said. “Whatever that is, I want to paint with it.” (Hint, Mr. Painterman: It’s lead.)

But there’s a much easier solution for caked paint on metal. Sure, you can painstakingly use a scraper or wire-brush attachment to a drill. But then you’re scratching up the metal and sending particles of paint into undesirable places — the air, the dog’s water bowl, your nostrils. But fire up the old crock pot, put a squeeze or two of dish soap, crank ‘er up to high and let it go overnight and you can use your fingers, literally, to push the paint off into a gooey glop.

I learned this trick from my old friend, “This Old House.” Their step-by-step guide curiously estimates the cost of the project at $25. So remind me not to use their brand of dish soap. But the method is tried — about a dozen times on our projects — and true. What’s new this time is, the hinges are longer than the crock pot is tall. D’oh. Guess it’s time for one of those oblong roasting crock pots.

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