Two Christmases ago, I asked Santa for a new toy:  a Silent Paint Remover.

It's an infrared lamp that heats up old paint allowing it to be scraped off.  I have a
lot of old doors and trim and although it's a pretty expensive toy, I thought it would
be a good investment especially since it was on Santa's dime. 

I decided to start with the salvaged door I bought for the bathroom.  I had already
taken off the little lock and stripped it so it's all set to go back on the finished door.

The lamp gets really hot so I set myself up on the back porch where
I could set the lamp down on the old mill stone table.  I don't know what
the manufacturer recommends doing with the hot lamp.  I put the instructions
in a safe place and as soon as I can remember where that is, I'll let you know.

The tool with the red handle is a three-sided scraper that comes with the kit.

You hold the lamp up to the painted surface and in 20 to 60 seconds, the
paint bubbles up.  It does emit some smoke so I'd probably work outside if at
all possible.  If you had to work indoors you could certainly set a good
ventilation system with a few fans directing the smoke to and out a window.

Once the paint bubbles up, you just scrape it off.  I counted five layers
of paint in this side of the door and the majority of it came off with one scrape...

...right to the bare wood for the most part.
You can reheat an area if all the paint doesn't come off but you
do risk scorching the bare wood.  You can see a little scorched area on
this panel but I think it's pretty superficial and it should sand out.

You can also see I had a little trouble with the panel moldings.  The basic
kit only comes with a straight edged scraper so I didn't really have a good
tool to get into the curves.  The company does sell curved and oval
scrapers and I'll probably buy a few to see if those help.

Initially, I wasn't sure what to do with the paint scrapings.
I have to assume that there's lead in any paint in my house and
I wanted to properly dispose of the waste.  We have a pretty good recycling
system so I contacted the city to explain what I was doing and
they said that I could bag up the shavings and bring them in to the recycling
center on one of the hazardous waste days.  Perfect!  So I put
down a plastic tarp so I could easily gather them up. 

This side of the door took about two hours' work which
I think is pretty fast.  With more practice and better scrapers, I'm
sure I'll get better it.  And it's definitely faster than using chemical strippers.
And a lot less mess.  Its $395 price tag isn't for the faint of wallet
but the only local salvage place that still does chemical
dipping and stripping charges $100 to strip a door so
it should pay off in the end.

I just don't think there's any easy way to tackle this job
but if you have a lot of stripping that doesn't involve detailed
carvings, and you have some way of safely disposing of the shavings,
I would recommend the Silent Paint Remover.