Cedar Chest Restoration | Redo It Yourself Inspirations : Cedar Chest Restoration

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Cedar Chest Restoration

In the day of painting furniture, I'm one of the fortunate ones that can paint or remove paint for clients. Most of my local business is primarily stripping and restorations. It's not as popular to share as painting is. But, it's always a long and tedious job while I take pride in my work and try to make the project better than asked for.

This job is the sweetest by far and I must share it.

The customer is an elderly gentleman who found my card at another local business. He called me "secretly" and asked me to strip and refinish his wife's trunk. "It must be done without her knowing. It's our anniversary and I have to get it to you when she goes to lunch this month and get it back to hide it before the big day". Then, with two jobs ahead of his, he calls again in a minor panic. "She may only go out once and I'm not sure what day. Is it possible to have it done earlier?" I assured him I'd work consistently to get it done as soon as possible so when that next opportunity for him to sneak away came, he will have his gift ready.

I love doing jobs like this. It just yanks my heart. I low-balled the quote, but I didn't mind because of the reason for the job.

That was before I knew what I was getting into. You know... looks like a simple sand and refinish.

But missing veneer, set in stains, and dinged up, (probably why it was painted to begin with)... the paint was decades old with layers of enamel aaaaand topped with a clear finish... it was a really big chore. Hard as rock finishing and I'm the lucky one to remove all of it. Of course, the Mr. had no idea what I was getting into either. I didn't have it in me to call him and tell him this is bigger than we thought. Not to mention, the Mrs. could be there and he would have some explaining to do.

But the good news is, it's a well built Lane cedar chest and the interior was untouched. Not in pristine condition, but easy to clean up. The light fixture was cut from the exterior, obviously not a concern for repair. The lining needed cleaning. And to liven up the cedar aroma, a very light hand sanding over the interior wasn't bad at all.

Hand sanding was impossible.
I was worried about stripping chemicals rippling the veneer, but after several hours of pouring and wiping, most of the layers of paint came off.

 Then I used a palm sander to get more of it off.

I was able to trim and glue new veneer onto the missing areas. Then hand sand the entire chest. Finally, applied the stain on the new veneer to match. 

I used coconut oil to condition the wood, then after sitting and drying, a natural clear wax to seal it.

It's very vintage.

After being in a basement for 30 years, this refreshed piece is going to be reused in the couple's new home.

The gentleman was pleased with the job and successfully surprised his bride.

It was a beast to work on, but it finally came back to life.

It was ready for the big day. Such a sweet thought, isn't it?

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