How to remove paint from old bakelite knobs

Written by ryan lawrence
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How to remove paint from old bakelite knobs
Bakelite was commonly used in household appliances during the early twentieth century. (Getty Thinkstock)

Also known as Bakelite, polyoxybenzylmethylenglycolanhydride is a type of synthetically engineered plastic first made in the early 1900s. If you try to aggressively remove paint from an old Bakelite knob using only friction-based abrasion, you'll likely scar the Bakelite. To effectively eliminate the paint without damaging the underlying plastic, utilise a relatively mild solvent that will soften the paint without damaging the knob.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Rubber gloves
  • White spirit solvent
  • Rags
  • Plastic masking sheeting
  • Professional painter's tape
  • 2.5 cm (1-inch) wide plastic putty knife
  • 80-grit sandpaper
  • Dental hook
  • Steel wool

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  1. 1

    Prevent a potential rash by wearing rubber gloves.

  2. 2

    Dampen a rag with white spirit solvent. Wipe down the painted Bakelite knob with the rag.

  3. 3

    Quickly cover the knob, using plastic masking sheeting. Tape all four edges of the sheeting down to prevent air flow from drying the solvent.

  4. 4

    Wait five to 10 minutes; remove the sheeting.

  5. 5

    Scrape the loose paint from the Bakelite knob using a 2.5 cm (1-inch) wide plastic putty knife and sandpaper.

  6. 6

    Scrape paint from detailed inundations, using a dental hook.

  7. 7

    Clean the Bakelite knob using steel wool dampened with solvent. Dry the knob with a fresh rag.

Tips and warnings

  • If your Bakelite knob is affixed to an item that runs on electricity, unplug the item before beginning work; white spirit is highly flammable.

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