Newest Project 10/10/2017

Let’s begin at the beginning.  I purchased this oak cabinet (I believe it was the lower half of a hutch at one time) at an estate sale a few months back.  Given it’s construction, it is around 100 years old, and unfortunately was faux finished at some point.  The first step was to find out what was lying underneath all that paint.  I removed all the hardware and drawers, then came the process of stripping the paint off.  As you know from previous post, I use Citristrip on most of my projects because it’s less caustic to yourself, and the environment.  Remember to put it on extra thick, and don’t be impatient, let it do it’s work.  The paint stripper sat on the piece for about an hour and a half.  If it’s bubbled and crackled it’s working.

When the Citristrip was finished, I removed the bubbled up paint with a plastic putty knife (the metal ones will gouge the wood, so use plastic.)  I like to scrape the gooey stuff off into an old plastic container because it keeps the drop cloth from getting slippery, and you don’t track it all over the place.  The pictures below are what it looked like after the paint was stripped off.  You can see in the first picture that there is water damage to the top of the chest.  After sanding, the marks were still visible.

This is a photo of the piece after it was sanded down with a 120 grit and then a second sanding with a 220 grit sandpaper. DSC02211

Normally I like to bring pieces like this back to its original condition, but with the water mark damage that wasn’t possible, so I chose to do something a bit different.  I decided to change the chest into an entertainment console.  I also thought I’d try something a little different for the finish.  Minwax makes a tintable water based stain, that you can have mixed into almost any color you’d like.  I chose to do the piece in True Blue, and it seemed like a great idea at the time.  Unfortunately, True Blue on a yellowish tone wood looks ugly.  In the photo you can see that small strip in the middle, that was the True Blue stain directly on the wood.

Back to the drawing board!  Thought about it for a few minutes, and decided to do a light grey wash over all the wood, and then use the True Blue stain.  In the photo above you can see the difference between the stain directly on the wood, and on the left, the stain on top of the grey wash.

The pictures above are of the chest and the drawers with the grey wash.  To do the wash technique I used about 2 cups of Sherwin Williams satin finish Filtered Shade with 1/4 cup of XIM extender and leveler.  I brushed on a medium coat of the paint mixture, and then wiped it off right away with a soft cloth.  The wood grain is still visible underneath, and it toned down the yellow hue.  Next came the True Blue stain.

On this I also brushed on a medium coat of the stain, and then used a soft cloth to wipe some of the stain off and leave a light coating of the blue.  You have to work quick with the stain because it is water based, and dries quickly (even with the XIM extender mixed in.)


Next I spray painted all the original drawer pulls with a brushed nickel satin finish paint, and then did a very fine mist of a satin finish gold.  You can’t really see it in the photos above because that’s the back side of all the pulls…someone is really bad at taking pictures of the process.  The last few parts of the project were putting the door back together after I removed the wood panel and replaced it with glass.  Then I did 3 coats of Minwax satin finish polyurethane, and last the casters on the bottom.

Finally!  The finished piece.

Please feel free to leave a comment, and thank you for taking the time to read Aunt Ruh’s Attic’s Blog.

Before and After

I thought you’d like to see a project I recently finished for a client, so you can get a feel for what can be done to make old furniture new again.  This was a Drexel French Provincial dresser that was an heirloom piece from my clients grandmother, and served its duty as a dresser when she and her husband were first married, and then used in her daughters bedrooms, it finally was relegated to a storage area in the basement.  The finish had seen quite a bit of wear and tear, and also didn’t fit into their décor anymore.  The good thing about the piece is that it was built rock solid with good bones.

The family was in the process of remodeling their family room, and the designer they were working with is one of the designers I also work with.  During the initial consultation, the designer learned about this piece of furniture, and suggested bringing me in to take a look at the dresser to see if it could be repurposed.  My first thoughts when seeing the dresser was…Entertainment console.   Our client liked the idea, and was thrilled we’d be able to save it.   I worked with the client and designer to ensure the newly designed piece would worked in both form, function, and finish.  I matched the stain to other pieces that would be incorporated into the room, and then did several samples of different finishes for the drawer fronts.

Then the work began.  First, I removed all the hardware, and used a citrus based paint stripper (Citristrip) to remove all the old finish.  I’ve found that Citristrip works well on most projects, it’s less caustic, and biodegradable.  I personally don’t like dripping furniture in paint stripping vats as it can loosen all the joinery and weakens the piece.  Citristrip is also easy to deactivate once the paint is removed; I use a paint stripper after wash.  The after wash removes any residue, and doesn’t raise the grain of the wood.

Next came the repairs and repurposing of the piece.  There was some minor damage to one of the rear legs, which required some stainable wood filler.  Then came the removal of the center post for the top drawers glides (those drawers were not going to be used again.)  Once those were removed, I then removed the screws that were holding the top of the dresser to the casework.  This allowed me to fashion a shelve for the future electronic components.  When that was completed, I reattached to the top, and gave the entire piece a light hand sanding with 220 grit sandpaper, and then a finishing hand sanding with a 400 grit sandpaper.

Now it was time for finishing.  With this piece, I had to mix two stains to get the precise color needed.  I mixed 1oz. of Minwax Dark Walnut to 4 oz. of English Chestnut.  The Minwax Dark Walnut toned down some of the red tones of the English Chestnut.  Next came the drawer fronts, on this I used a deep navy blue latex paint with a flat finish, and then I did a wash technique over the top of the navy paint. It consisted of a medium gray latex, also in a flat finish and then a very thin wash of satin finish silver.   Once all of the paint and stain dried completely, I sprayed 3 coats of a water based satin finish polyurethane to protect the surfaces.  The very last step was to replace the drawer pulls.

The final photo below is of the finished piece.  Ok, it’s not the best photo, and I should’ve dusted the component shelf before I took the photos…live and learn.  Hopefully, this will give you some ideas of how to save a piece of furniture.  It will take some sweat equity refinishing it, but in the end you get the satisfaction of saving a piece of furniture, and a job well done.

If you have any questions or comments hit that old comment button.  In the upcoming weeks I’ll be posting more photos and details of projects, and also some step by step videos.

Take Care All,