Motor Home Project: Refinish Cabinet Doors
Bushnell, FL - Events of Monday, January 20 to Tuesday, January 28, 2014
So far this winter, we certainly haven't been doing as much sightseeing as we had hoped. For one thing, we have seen just about everything of note within about an hour's drive of Bushnell, so most of our sightseeing will require a longer drive. Therefore, we have been content to chill out around the motor home rather than take all-day sightseeing excursions.
Speaking of chilling out, that brings up another reason we haven't gotten out much - the weather hasn't been all that nice. Cold fronts have been passing through fairly frequently, so the weather hardly has a chance to warm up before the next front brings clouds, rain and more cold temperatures.
We haven't even gone out to eat much because our budget hasn't recuperated from our expensive New England travels last summer and our weight hasn't fully recovered from all the treats we indulged in during our Christmas visit to Pittsburgh. We're still working on breaking the pound barrier. LOL
Hanging out around the motor home gave us plenty of time to enjoy the paperwhite narcissus Lora and J. Michael got Paul for Christmas. The kit included the bulbs, a pot and planting medium. Paul planted the bulbs shortly after we got back to Bushnell, and they started blooming about three weeks later. We both love the beautiful white flowers and the intoxicating fragrance that fills the motor home.
As we have said before, Paul usually can't sit still for long and eventually gets motivated to tackle a project. One of those was refinishing several of our motor home's cabinet doors. Paul isn't sure what type of finish Tiffin used on our cabinet doors and drawer fronts (he thinks it was nitrocellulose lacquer), but it is not very resistant to moisture or to skin and cooking oils.
The cabinets in the kitchen get used a lot and have had the finish around the knobs softened by repeated contact with water and oils. When the finish is soft, cleaning it gradually removes the finish leaving the wood substrate dull and unprotected. Wet hands and splashing water in the bathroom also caused the cabinet doors in that area to develop a cracked finish and permanent, white marks.
We finally got tired of looking at the unsightly marks on some of our cabinet doors, so Paul decided to start refinishing them. Before refinishing, however, the old finish had to be stripped off. Stripping old finish isn't difficult, especially since our woodwork is natural maple with no stain. However, removing the old finish can be tedious, and its almost always messy and smelly. Therefore, Paul had to wait for nice weather so he could do all the work outside.
We had 10 doors and one drawer front that needed to be refinished. Since that was too much to get done in one day and since days that were good for refinishing were only happening one or two at a time, Paul split the work into several sessions doing only a few doors at a time.
After removing several of the doors on Tuesday, Paul applied paint stripper and spread it around with a brush.
A little more stripper had to be applied every few minutes to keep the sun and breeze from drying the stripper out before it had time to soften the old finish. Fortunately, the stripper was very effective, so it didn't take too long to soften the old finish enough to be scraped off the flat areas with a putty knife.
After the majority of the old finish was scraped off, Paul then worked on the contoured areas with a Scotch Brite abrasive pad soaked with a little of the stripper.
Repeated wiping with lacquer thinner removed the gooey residue of paint stripper and dissolved finish. It took a lot of paper towels and a lot of solvent to get off all the residue.
Paul's favorite wood finish is Minwax Wipe On Poly. Wipe On Poly is a polyurethane finish that is easy to apply, fast drying, highly moisture resistant and is very durable.
Paul usually applies two coats of finish sanding lightly between coats with a Scotch Brite abrasive pad or steel wool.
Wipe On Poly is available in both gloss and satin finishes, but Paul prefers to use gloss even when trying to achieve a satin finish like the wood in our motor home. The satin Wipe On Poly is more difficult to get a consistent appearance because the degree of gloss of the satin finish is dependent on how well you shake the can before applying the finish and on your application technique. Therefore, Paul uses gloss finish and reduces the shine after it dries with a Scotch Brite pad. An abrasive pad used by itself will result in a matte finish, and a little paste wax added to the pad while sanding will result in a satin finish.
Paul managed to find several nice days and partial days where he was able to dodge wind, cold and raindrops, and he finally got the refinishing done the following Tuesday. The refinished doors and drawer look like new again, but they're actually better than new because we know the new polyurethane finish will be much more durable than the original.
We're still hoping for some nicer weather soon so we can do some sightseeing. Stay tuned.