Some notes about paint stripping:
I spent the summer of 01 stripping six-plus layers of paint off of ALL the
woodwork in the house - living room, dining room, stairs, original windows, front door and upstairs hall. I removed every stick of wood I could, to strip outdoors with a heat gun followed by cleanup with whatever
inexpensive stripper was on sale at the hardware store. On the wood that I could
not remove – stair banister, stair treads and window jams – I used several applications of Soy Gel (covering the
stuff with plastic wrap to let it work over night), and was quite pleased with the results… no smell, supposedly non-toxic,
not a skin irritant and surprisingly effective. Here’s where you can get
it: http://www.franmar.com/ In the past I’ve used PeelAway but found it to be too messy for indoor use, and the seemingly endless neutralization
process, coupled with the additional sanding required to smooth the wood grain, made any actual labor-savings negligible. Soy Gel cleans up easily with a quick wipe of denatured alcohol (which leaves the
wood grain intact).
A note of caution: A heat gun
and a good scraper with a sharp blade will comparatively quickly take off many layers of paint... especially on large flat
pieces. But the fumes from the lead paint you'll be burning will require a respirator and good ventilation. Also, I was afraid to use a heat gun on wood that was still attached to the walls of our house. The heat gun can (and will) ignite the bits of dust in the wall beneath the molding
you're working on.
This is the kind of fire that smolders quietly for a couple of hours before
bursting into a full conflagration once you've gone to bed.
Although,... a good house-fire will strip ALL of your paint very quickly...
and may become a seriously considered option if you spend enough time on this kind of project.