Tuesday, October 12, 2010

New life for an old filing cabinet

Often, those back-burner projects just never seem to get done.  Case in point, we've had a filing cabinet in the shop for at least two years now, waiting to be painted and fixed up.  There always seems to be something else more important to work on...

But I finally assigned the project to John Egson Fonseca back in March.  He started removing the rust and paint with a wire wheel on the hand grinder, but after several aftnoons, he tired of the work and the project lost momentum. 

So, the file cabinet has been sitting around in the shop for months now.  Here's a picture of John painting a door latch (hanging on a wire) , with the cabinet half-done in the background...

So, I decided to get this project moving again a couple of weeks ago.  I asked another of the older boys, Einer Posada, to help John get this cabinet painted.  The carrot was that they would learn how to use the spray gun.  Actually, John has had some experience with using the gun, but Einer had none.  So, we removed the drawer slides and other bits and pieces and.they got busy sandblasting the interior of the cabinet.   

They thought they were done at several points, but then we'd look again and find some other nook or cranny that had some nasty rust hiding out.  The process was a bit trying, but like I told them, if we don't do a good job of preparing, applying the paint won't matter.  The rust will pop out again and ruin the whole project.

We found during this process that the steel would actually rust overnight when it was bare.  So, after a hard morning's work removing new rust, it was finally time to let the paint fly.

I had carefully explained beforehand how to operate the controls on the spray gun, how far away to keep the gun from the piece, etc., but in the end, they had to learn it all by doing.  It's too much instruction to take in well without a little practice.

Einer and John took turns applying paint. I decided to spray the inside of the cabinet, because of the difficulty, and because we were short of time.

By the end of the quart of paint, the cabinet was looking much better.  They had the predictable problems of runs here and there, but really it turned out well.  And since it was just a primer coat, all the little errors can be rectified while sanding for the next coat of paint.

The boys were exhilarated by using the gun and figuring out how to control it.  I enjoyed seeing them experiment and make corrections.  They weren't so excited about cleaning up the gun afterward, but that's just the way painting is....lots of preparation, a little painting, and lots of work cleaning up.

So, the filing cabinet is now one step closer to getting out the door of the shop!  Stay tuned for the next installment...who knows when....

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