How to Remove Painted Hinges from Wood Cabinets
Learn how to remove hinges buried under layers of paint while refinishing wood cabinets
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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Clear a Slot
To clear a slot, set a sharp scratch awl at an angle in the center of the slot and tap it lightly, first one way, then the other. Do the same for the other screwheads.