by Bob Swisher, Urbana, Il.
The first time I took the old paint and rust off a wrought iron baby bed for my granddaughter, I used a semi-paste stripper, the handy wire brush attachment, which fit my hand held drill, and a large amount of graded steel wool. You probably know the routine, start with coarse and finish with four 0000, very fine.
When I was finished with this, the result was a very satisfying smooth finish, really smooth. That is the problem which develops after priming and painting the bed - it's too smooth!!
Invariably, any slight contact with the bed meant big chunks of paint would come off. Soon, the bed that I had spent so much time and effort on refinishing had areas of bare metal or rust all over it.
The solution to this problem is sandblasting. It leaves a slightly pitted surface, which provides a good base for paint to adhere. So the next time your lawn furniture, glider, wrought iron bed, cast iron brackets, gates or sewing machine base needs to be refinished, start with sandblasting.
The hardest and most difficult thing about sandblasting is finding a source, someone who will remove the layers of old paint, rust and years of neglect that have overtaken your favorite piece of iron.
Start with the yellow pages.
Sandblasters seem to be an endangered species. Large construction companies, concrete ready-mix plants, some auto body shops, monument memorial firms and grain elevators are firms that usually have sandblasting capabilities.
Most metal items, especially cast or wrought iron will start to rust within 48 hours after blasting, so ideally you would like to find a firm that sandblasts and then applies a clear coat finish or the paint color of your choice.