Introduction

yellow crackled painted kitchen cabinets with painted hinges
Photo: Brad Simmons/Beateworks/Corbis
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Q: We're planning to refinish the original cabinets in our 1930s kitchen, but the hinges are buried under layers and layers of paint. How do we remove the hinges without damaging them or the surrounding wood?

—Barbara Barnes, La Mesa, Calif.

A: In order to take off the hinges, you'll have to back out the old straight-slot screws that hold them in place. That requires clearing the screws' paint-clogged slots. Given the age of your house, there are probably layers of lead paint on the hinges, so before you start, put on a respirator and lay down a wide piece of plastic sheeting under the work area to catch any paint chips.
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    Tools List

    • respirator
      Face mask with respirator
    • Scratch Awl
      Scratch awl
    • utility knife with hook blade
      Utility knife
    • HEPA vacuum for hazardous waste
      Vacuum with HEPA filter
    • multi-bit screwdriver
      Screwdriver
    • wooden mallet
      Wood mallet

    Shopping List

    Plastic sheeting