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I Forge Iron

Paint removing

Kenny O

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Hello All,

thanks for your time.

I was given about fifty real estate signs from a retired broker. Nice sheet metal but there is paint all over it, and this stuff is near bullet proof!

Is there a way to get this sheet clean w/out warping it. I haven't tried the torch yet cuz I want them to stay flat.

I tried "Strip-eze".... Forgetaboutit I would rather throw them out than go through that again!

I hate to see all that steel go to the scrap just because of some paint!

Thank you all

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Some of those signs you are talking about may have baked on power coat paint. I have no notion of how to get it off. Some of them are still lying around after Katrina. If they haven't been critically bent they are still not rusted. How about tossing then in a Halloween bonfire.
Kill or cure.

P.S. I've had that problem with some electrical panel sections that I scrounged for sheet steel. I used an electic heater for paint striping. Kind of like an up side down hot plate. Miserable job :(

Edited by Charlotte
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I vote for the bon fire. If your lucky, it will heat the sheets evenly enough to avoid warping too bad. I would imagine it would be good to stand them on edge in the fire, to try to heat both surfaces more evenly.


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This one is very easy.. media blast it off. The torch, bon fires, etc will just warp that those things to heck as well as anneal them in the process.

Do you have an air compressor? If so go to harbor freight and get a small hand held media blaster and a large box of walnut shells media.

Here are the walnut shells. (They Also have aluminum oxide, soda, and glass beads) I would definitely go with the walnut shells or glass beads. The soda probably isn't abrasive enough(coarse enough) and the Aluminum leaves kinda a slag on the surface which can be a pain to get off.
Fine Grade Walnut Shell Blast Media

Then get yourself this guy Portable Abrasive Blaster
OR go look through all their pages of blast equipment using the keyword blast.

Use a respirator, goggles and face shield. You'll want to do this outside if you don't have some kind of tarped up booth.

I've done this and it works fairly well for removing mill scale in impossible to reach places and paint will just come off even easier.

(I dont suggest doing it inside. Too dusty and it makes a huge mess out of your shop, yes I know this first hand)

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If you dont' have an air compressor or access to one then the next thing I would turn to would be one of these guys

You can get these at depot/lowes. It's an abrasive disc about 3/4" thick and it should peel off the paint fairly well in your angle grinder. They also have 4.5" sanding discs at home depot lowes. Go for the real course like the 24 grit. That will really tear the paint right off, just go easy and don't push to hard. The smoother grits will only clog with paint.

Again I would do this outside unless you've scheduled to clean your shop anyway ;-)

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What are you going to make with the metal from the signs?

50 signs is a lot of dust and fumes by any removal method, so you have to ask, is the labor and waste (dust, fumes, etc) worth the cost of the metal. Can you use the signs to roof the smithy, use as a outside surface for a wall, etc?

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Thank you for the many great ideas and options!
I hadn't thought of sheeting a roof, or fire proofing a wall.
The heat gun might work.
With paint on both sides the labor and blast media would be enough to drive a person nutz
I think I am going to do the bonfire thing there's no fire ban yet, I would most likely use them for sculptures, and in that case they would be a more organic shape anyway.
I actually don't have any more than one project in mind, two eight sided 12" tall retro style rockets(Flash Gordon style) that will end up being a chronulator
The hardest part will be brazing the eight pieces without warping the whole deal.

I guess I have a thing for flat sheet metal, I must think out side the box.

Thank you all for your time!


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One os the signature lines on the site says
If you do not build a box, then you do not have to think outside the box.

So why not use the metal to BUILD a box, a six sided box, a cube, a die (single for dice) and support it so it stands on one one corner thereby exposing all 6 sides to view. You can then decorate it with dots (dice), decorate each side with a different sculpture using the plate as a base, and the ideas go on and on. You would only have to remove paint from the edges or where you apply welds.

One of those signs would make a dog door for the smithy.

Use the sign metal for a (duh) metal sign for your blacksmith shop. If you need a larger sign weld them together in a 2x2, 2x3, 4x4 etc configuration.

Build a mobile using the signs on the diamond to catch and turn freely in the wind. It should be easy to balance as all the signs should weigh about the same amount. Use length 1 times weight 1 equals length 2 times weight 2 to make things work. Or build a Art Mobile from left over sign pieces from another project.

You could cut on the diamond 1/2 way through 2 of the signs, then slip cut into cut and make a small star or with a couple more cuts MAKE A STAR.

Blacksmithing is ALL ABOUT using what you got to make what you want. Your gots and your wants are yours to use, make us proud of ya and remember to post photos.

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Glenn has really good advice. You also may feel like because they are free that its worth but honestly i've often found that free stuff sometimes becomes more pain then its worth for certain projects. Run down to your local steel yard and look at sheet metal. They usually have all thickness of sheet metal you can imagine and you can usually buy cut off scraps of all sizes for a good discount that you can throw in the back of your car.

I've lived in Portland and in Bend, so I know where the yards are there, but not in Southern Oregon. So just open a yellow pages/white pages or look on superpages.com and you should be able to find something.

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The best paint remover I've seen if you have the cash is called "Aircraft Remover" it is expensive but it works like crazy and DON'T repeat DO NOT get any on your skin it kind of feels like you are on fire. Not that that happened to me or anything..............gotta love chemical burns. Keep the water hose nearby just in case. If you are not environmentally conscious. You could try brake drum cleaner, it's relatively expensive as well and not as easily controlled. As far as free steel there is no such thing ,it all has a price one way or the other.

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Glenn, this is great advice. Just remove the paint from the edges, and weld it up! These junk signs make great temporary table stiffeners, sheet forge bodies, art deco V-belt guards (paint w/own design if you don't want to reveal the origin), animal cage roofs, etc. Do not use them for something that needs the paint removed. Even the expensive stuff at the big box store is cheaper in the long run, since fumes cost your vitality. Also, removing paint is far down the negative end of the pleasantness scale. Especially compared to forging. Even drawing out tong reins. :)

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Why not use as is. If you forge it the forging will move most of the paint. If you weld it the welding will do the same. Then when you have finished making whatever just finish the job by sandblasting the remaining painted parts or even just paint over the top.

Also once you have stripped them all they will start to rust so why the hurry anyway?

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