A simple guide to restoring an old window frame

A simple guide to restoring an old window frame


Posted 10th June

Do you have an old window frame that looks like it could do with some TLC? Then look no further than this handy guide from Dremel! 

You will need:

An old window frame
Safety gloves
Safety glasse
Dust mask
Ear protection
Awl
Triangle paint scraper
Router Bit (HSS) 6,4 mm (640)
Dremel Multi-Tool
Flap wheel 4,8 mm (504)2-component filler
Filling knives
Random orbit sander + 120 grit sanding paper
EZ SpeedClic Sanding Mandrel (SC407)
Sanding Bands 13 mm grit 120 (432)
Brush
Degreaser
Piece of dry cloth
Small bowl or bucket with water
Painter’s tape
Packing knife
Paint suitable for outdoor use
Paintbrush
Small foam paint roller
Paint tray
A few pieces of scrap wood

Directions

1. Before you start sanding, you’ll want to check your window frame for wood rot, a fungus that eats away wood, as wood rot can compromise the structure of the frame. Firstly, remove the frame from its hinges and lay it on your workbench. This is the easiest way to get to work. Using the sharp, pointed tool known as an awl, start tracing along the edges and crevices of the wood and check for soft spots, as this signifies wood rot. Anywhere the awl easily pierces the surface of the wood – you’ve found rot.

2. Before you can clean out the wood rot, you’ll need to remove the old paint from the window frame. You can easily do this using a triangle paint scraper. Scrape over the whole frame with the tool until you’ve removed all the loose paint. The paint should flake away with ease. Don’t worry if the surface isn’t smooth – we’ll get to the sanding later on. Now you can start cleaning out the rot. Using the pointed side of the scraper (or the awl), scrape out the rot you found in step 1. This is the first stage of rot removal – we’ll guide you through a more thorough cleaning in the next step.

3. Thoroughly removing rot helps ensure the structural integrity of your frame and prevents future rot from developing. Before you pick up your Dremel Multi-Tool, put on your safety gloves, goggles, earmuffs and dust mask. Attach the router bit 6,4 mm (640) to the Multi-Tool and start at a low RPM (rotations per minute) – such as 10,000 or 15,000. Then begin to rout the places you scraped away in step 2, by applying pressure and moving slowly. Rout away all the wood rot and don’t worry about any roughness: the sanding will smooth everything out. 

4. After routing, it’s time to start sanding the wood. Insert the Flap wheel 4,8 mm (504) into your Dremel Multi-Tool. This time, you can set the RPM a little higher than the setting used for routing – say around 20,000. Keep your safety gear on and start sanding the surface of the wood. Focus on sanding the holes created by the removal of the wood rot. Keep sanding until the edges of the routed holes are smooth and ready to be filled.

5. The goal now is to patch up all the holes and restore the frame’s uniform surface. Two-component epoxy filler is great for this because it hardens well and it’s water-resistant. Start with the base filler on your pallet knife and add a squeeze or two of the second component. Using another pallet knife, mix them together until the filler is consistent in both colour and texture. Press it into any holes or gaps, filling one at a time. Wipe away any excess filler with the side of the pallet knife and let the filler dry. Don’t worry about getting it perfectly smooth – you’ll be sanding soon.

6. The next step is to prepare the frame for painting by sanding it. Wearing your safety equipment, start with an orbital sanding tool. This way, you can sand all the top surfaces at once. Then switch to your Dremel Multi-Tool and attach the Sanding Band 120 grit (432). Starting with a low RPM and applying light pressure, begin in the hard-to-reach places, such as corners and edges. Pay attention to the areas with filler, ensuring there is a smooth transition between filler and wood. You don’t need to remove all the old paint – the goal is a smooth, splinter-free surface that’s ready for paint.

7. Now that you’ve used a sanding tool to smooth the frame, it will be quite dusty. Grab your dust mask and use a bristle brush to remove most of the surface dust. You could also use a vacuum cleaner for this part. Next up, fill a small bowl with a mix of water and degreaser – the degreaser packaging should have instructions for the correct ratio. Dip a dry cloth into the mixture and rub down the window frame first, before cleaning the glass. Finally, ensure your work surface is dust-free so your paint job will be perfect.

8. No matter how confident you are in your painting ability, taping up the glass ensures a neat finish. Top tip: use a strong, good quality tape so it doesn’t leave adhesive behind when you remove it later. Is your frame made up of lots of small windows, like ours? Simply tape over the wood using one long piece of tape. Then use a packing knife to neatly slice away the tape that’s covering the cross-sections of wood you’ll need to paint.

9. You’ve now reached the very last step in the restoration of your window frame. Give the paint a good stir and then start by painting all the tricky edges with a small brush. A brush is also handy for the frame’s sides. Next, use a roller for the flat topsides. For the best result, paint two thin layers, letting one layer dry before the next. When the final layer has dried, remove the tape. Before doing so, score the edges with the packing knife to cut through any dried paint so it can be easily removed. Finally, attach your frame to the window and admire your hard work!

Tutorial courtesy of Dremel






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