What is the best way to remove the last bits of softened paint in the panel crevices after applying paint stripper, shown above at right?

I'm stripping 100+ years of paint (including lead paint) from wood doors, jambs and portals.

I've applied multiple passes of Dumond SmartStrip; each time I've covered the surface with either Dumond's paint stripping paper or plastic wrap, similar to the technique mentioned here, and waiting a full 18 hours before using a plastic putty knife to scrape off the liquified paint. Interestingly, in my half-and-half tests (below, second image from right) between Dumond paper and regular plastic wrap, the plastic wrap consistently worked a bit better, helping the stripper to soften and remove more paint.

Here's a sequence of four such passes on a door:

Left to right:  first to fourth pass of Dumond SmartStrip

I've been using paint prep TSP-replacement cleaners, but it's not that effective on the paint while discoloring the wood, as shown below on this jamb:

Left to right:  first to third pass of stripper and paint prep cleaner/degreaser

As shown in the right-most photo, the cleaner is removing the 100 year old finish under the layers of paint.

I'm worried that the cleaner is actually discoloring the wood, rather than leaving a neutral bare surface that I could sand and stain.

Does anyone have any suggestions for a minimal regimen to remove the last bits of paint and stripper? This is oil-based paint with lead, so water cleanup doesn't do much.

Am I right to be worried that the wood will be damaged by Krud Cutter / Goof Off / et cetera, or can I use those solvents to scour the surface and then restain without a sign of a struggle?

  • Have you tried a brass/plastic/steel bristle brush? You might need to wet the area with the stripper and then brush/scrub.
    – Jeff Cates
    Dec 11 '18 at 0:00
  • Good point -- I have tried brushes, from a toothbrush to one with metal bristles. Neither makes much headway without the solvents I mentioned, which is perfectly fine as long as they're not damaging the wood.
    – Kevin Cain
    Dec 11 '18 at 1:39

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