First, let me say thank you in advance if you are viewing this. I am in a bit of a dilemma. Recently my wife noticed an interesting piece that looked like an old mini bar. Upon further inspection it turn out to be two separate halves, one being a head board and another being the foot board. The piece itself is solid but most of the flourish and finish is falling off. We decided that we could re-purpose them into a hinged mini bar since most of the finishing details have fallen off and the rest are beyond repair and fall to dust if you look at them funny.

The piece itself is painted and cracking and chipping pretty badly. I thought with the piece looking fairly old it may be best to test for lead and unfortunately it appears that there are slight traces of lead present. Before I give up on this and contact my city for disposal purposes, I would like to find out a bit more about possibly removing the paint and trying to re-purpose it.

Since the paint is cracking and chipping pretty badly I believe (based on some minor research) that encapsulation and encasement are not an option. Does anyone know of a safe stripper to use that is economical and environmentally friendly to remove the lead based paint? Citristrip appeared on TOH post I found earlier. It appears there only 2 layers of paint on the piece itself. There may be a varnish behind that as well. This would be a project that I would complete outdoors (where the piece is due to my suspicion, it was not coming into my home).

My other concern is that once the paint is stripped it may require light sanding before repainting. Is this safe? can the lead leach into the wood itself? I just can't bring myself to pay someone $150 to $200 to remove the paint on a piece that is a rescue/recycle project.

Any advice and help is greatly appreciated. I can post pictures once I upload them from my phone.