Infrared Stipper

Warning this project is dangerous and should only be attempted by someone who understands and is comfortable with deadly high voltage electricity!

One of the more annoying DIY projects is stripping surfaces. Removing paint (or laminate) requires time and hard work. The most common approaches are chemicals, scrapers, sanders and heat guns, but they all leave much to be desired. Recently I came across an Old House article that discussed a new infrared paint stripper called the Silent Paint Remover. I researched further and the reviews seemed very positive and the theory sound. However, with a price starting at $465, I was hesitant and skeptical. Apparently, I was not the only one. After a few more Internet searches I had found a site by a clever guy named Dave, who actually built his own IR stripper. Basically, an infrared stripper is just 2 quartz heating elements mounted in a reflective case.

To cut to the chase, here is my DIY IR paint stripper. I followed Dave’s design except for a few minor changes.

Infrared Stripper

I started with a Holmes quartz heater.

Quartz Heater

I then cut some 3/4″ x 1/8″ angle and bar aluminum to make a frame for the quartz tubes. I cut the aluminum using a miter saw fitted with a non-ferrous metal blade.

Angle Aluminum

Here is the assembled frame (14″ x 4″ x 3.5″) Length x Width x Height. I chose 3/4″ aluminum over the 1″ because it was cheaper and lighter. However, the narrow strips require very precise hole placement for the screws, especially in the corners.

Aluminum Frame
Using a hand jigsaw with a metal bit, I cut a scrap piece of carbon fiber to act as a heat shield on the top of the case.

CarbonFiber Top

Next I tried to make a heat reflector out of some 4″ heating conduit.

Aluminum Heat Shield

Unfortunately, the heat from the quartz tubes was too much for the thin aluminum.

Failed Heat Shield

Instead, I took the 2 small reflectors from the Holmes heater and riveted them together to form a single large reflector.

Riveted Heat Shield

I then mounted an illuminated power switch and 10 amp fuse to a heat sink that I pulled from a dead computer power supply.

Switch and Fuse

I mounted the heat sink to the top of the frame and added a power cord with a built in GFI that came from a dead Xerox printer.

GFCI

The cheapest masonry float at the box store provided me with a solid light weight polyurethane handle.

Handle

A shot of the mounted handle and wiring. I ran the neutral wire across the frame between the carbon fiber and reflector in some 1/4″ heat resistant tubing rated for 1100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wiring

Next I fastened 2 computer board mounts to both of the bottom rails of the frame to hold the depth screens, which are just cut out from the front of the Holmes heater.

Infrared Stripper

These green anodized aluminum thumb screws (from a computer case) are used to adjust the depth.

Thumb Screws

The last thing to go in are the two fragile quartz tubes.

Height Screen

Here is the completed stripper.

Infrared Stipper

The total cost of all the parts was less than $100 US:

DESCRIPTIONQtySource
Holmes Radiant Quartz Heater with 2 Quartz Elements1Amazon
Angle Aluminum 3/4" x 1/8" x 3'2Home Depot
Aluminum Bar 3/4" x 1/8" x 4'1Home Depot
Alumnium Bar 1.5" x 1 mm x 4"2Cut from aluminum project box
Screws #10-24 x 1/2"26Hardware Store
Screws #10-24 x 3/4"2Hardware Store
Nuts #10-2428Hardware Store
Flat Washers #1028Hardware Store
Split Lock Washers #1028Hardware Store
3mm Stainless Steel Screws8Hardware Store
3mm Stainless Steel Nuts8Hardware Store
3mm Stainless Steel Flat Washers8Hardware Store
3mm Stainless Steel Split Washers8Hardware Store
2mm Stainless Steel Allen Bolts4Hardware Store
2mm Stainless Steel Nuts4Hardware Store
2mm Stainless Steel Flat Washers4Hardware Store
2mm Stainless Steel Split Washers4Hardware Store
Nuts #6-324Hardware Store
Lock Washer #64Hardware Store
Aluminum Pop Rivets 1/8" x 1/8"6Hardware Store
Aluminum Rivet Washers 1/8"6Hardware Store
Fibre Washers #620From old computer case
Motherboard Mounts #64From old computer case
Panel Mount Fuse Holder 10A1Radio Shack
10A Fast Blow Fuse1Radio Shack
Rocker Switch 10A illuminated SPST1Radio Shack
Heat Resistant 1100° F Electrical Wire Sleeving 1/4" x 2'1Ebay
Cord restraint1Hardware Store
1/4" Insulated Wire Clips2Hardware Store
Heat Shrink Tubing 1'1Hardware Store
Aluminum Heat Sink1From dead computer power supply
Electrical Crimp Quick Disconnects5Radio Shack
Electrical Crimp Ring Connects7Reused 3 from heater
Wire 16 gauge 101 Celcius 2'1Reused from heater
Heavy Duty Electrical Power Cord w/ GFI1From dead printer
Metal Screen 4.5" x 14.75"2Reused from heater
Handle (From Masonry Float)1Home Depot
Carbon Fiber Sheet 10" x 13" x 0.05" 1Ebay
Green Anodized Aluminum Thumb Screws4Directron