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Screw this

In case you missed last weeks blog I had a project that was put on hold thanks to one stubborn screw that was giving me trouble. Thanks to some vice grips and wd40 that was sorted out and what follows is the project in its entirety. 

We got this tiny rocking chair from my grandmother after it sat in her basement for goodness knows how long. 


The upholstery was terrifying, there were dead spiders, but at least they were dead. 


The wood base was still in excellent shape so there was no need to cut a new one. I used foam from an old mattress pad doubled over along with remnant fabric I had laying around to reupholster it. 


I used the same method I did on our dining chairs which you can see here.


The chair itself was in pretty rough shape too, pegs were loose and screws were rusted. Hence the trouble we had getting the one screw out. The head rusted off leaving only the threaded portion. 


We ended up drilling out around it, spraying wd40 in the hole and pulling it out with vice grips


I later filled the hole with wood filler so the new screw would have something to grip 


After disassembling the chair it probably looked like a pile of fire wood to anyone else but the wood was still in excellent shape after a good sanding. 


However even after sanding the pieces didn’t match. Some were a very light wood, some had a red hue to them. If I were staining it a dark color it wouldn’t have mattered but I wanted to keep the piece light so I opted to do a wash of paint. 


I decided to try out target’s paint brand. I believe it’s made by valspar which is generally not my favorite but it worked well for the wash due to being a rather flat base. 


Some new screws and wood glue to secure loose pegs and the chair is back to being a wonderful sturdy piece again. It’s an excellent edition to our library tucked over by the children’s books. 

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Kid Stuff

Just a couple small projects this week. First up my childhood friend the rocking horse. I never gave it a name. Or a gender for that matter. Comment what it’s name should be, I think it’s about time it got one. 

This poor, 26ish year old horse has spent the last 14 or so years in a garage loft and it shows.

My grandfather built it for me before my legs would even reach the pegs. And my grandmother painted the beautiful designs. 

As you can see the varnish has yellowed over the years. In fact you can see where my little hands wore off the varnish so the blue paint shows its true color around the hand holds.

I wanted to get rid of as much of the yellowing as I could while still keeping the lovely paint that my grandmother did, so I just did a wet sanding with a 150 and 220 grit sanding pad 

Now it just looks a little more antiqued than before, but still beautiful. I will eventually need to replace the tail, but for now it’s found a home in our dining room for our friends children to play on. 

Next up a project from Mr. Smith’s childhood. 

It’s not quite as pretty but it’s a bit more practical. It was his childhood toy box and before it was his it was someone else’s… I’m not sure whose, but obviously it’s pretty old and it’s pretty sturdy. It’s made out of scrap, solid wood, tongue and groove. 

And as you can see here a 6 year old Mr. Smith painted it. 

We freshened up the paint a bit using the same red and chalkboard as I did on the bar. As you can see it’s also going to need a new bottom. 

It also desperately needed new casters as the bearings in these had seized up. 

New casters, new bottom reinforced with a center strut thanks to some scrap paneling and wood…
I think Mr. Smith is excited about his newly remodeled toy box…. Or at least the toys

And it has found a cozy home in the breakfast nook. 

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Hall of Frame 

Back when we visited our friends in North Carolina I got some vintage frames to add some artwork to this odd Hallway we have.

  

 I added some existing old frames I have to them just by giving them some funky paint jobs and decided I would hang them (mostly) empty like at our old house.

   
I’m not really sure why anyone needs this many frames but they sure do make me happy 

  
 
 I added decorative metal sheeting to a few of them to match the awesome barn door my father made for us. I’m going to paint the hall side of the frame of the door to match the frames next week.  

  
Some of the frames with the sheeting required silicon caulk to secure the metal but that was a super quick job. 

  
Some of the frames also got some map cutouts in them of places we’ve lived or been.

  
Lastly I repainted this big collage that has photos of Mr. Smith’s late mother. We had it set up at her celebration of life.

  
 In order to match it to the rest of the installation I just removed a few of the pictures and used a paper similar to our wall color to give the impression of empty frames and did a couple maps and a couple metal inserts as well. 

  
The hardest part of the whole process was the hanging bit. 

  
Oh there is that barn door I was talking about. 

Of course I had help, including help from the cat

  
But eventually it was done

  
And not too shabby if I do say so myself, you can see the barn door peeking out again here. 

  
  
Hopefully Mr. Smith likes it when he finally gets back from his business trip 

  

  
I even snuck our little silhouettes in. 

It was a relatively easy job to create a high impact space

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Cheater’s Chalk Paint

Back to those darn chairs, shall we?

I love the look of chalk paint particularly when used with dark wax. I just don’t love the price tag. A quart of good quality chalk paint can cost upwards of $30 add in the cost of the specialized wax and brushes and you’re looking at a $100 project. I figured I could either do it far cheaper or fail miserably at trying.

So first and foremost I cleaned up my chairs, chalk painting claims not to have any prep work. No sanding etc. but if you are working on old dining room chairs I suggest at least giving them a scrub with some Murphy’s Oil Soap just to get the grime from years of family dinners and years of furniture polish and wax off, or not even the best paint will stick.

After that I just started painting away with my favorite primer, which happens to be a really cheap ceiling paint. Ceiling paint is very thick, and very flat so it likes to stick to things and dries rather quickly, it also has good tooth to it. Tooth is the texture that helps other things stick. It’s like painting a canvas with gesso before starting a painting.

After the primer was dry I went in with the color. I did end up buying a quart of this color (it was a custom mix to match the fabric) just because I love it so I know I’ll use it on other projects, but I could have gotten away with just one $3 sample pot. Even at a quart it was only $15.

After getting the paint done I decided to tempt fate and go for the waxing. I decided to try to tint my own wax, I used Minwax finishing wax in natural (aka clear) which is around $10 for a can and a chocolate brown paint I had lying around. I simply took a scoop of the wax and a drizzle of the paint and very thoroughly mixed the two. As you can tell my measuring was very precise.

EEEEEEEWWWWW

I just used a cheap chip brush to mush the wax on, waited a minute or two, and buffed it off. The finishing wax is technically a matte varnish so it will dry hard and help protect the paint finish on the piece. That also means you have to work in small areas at a time so you don’t allow it to dry all the way before buffing it off. The now tinted wax will stick in recessed areas like corners and carved details and any cracks and scratches that the piece has accrued over the years. You could also distress the piece before starting if you wanted it to have a little more character. I discovered that if you happen to have a patch that dries a bit too much before you get a chance to buff it, it can be salvaged. Just put some wet wax overtop of it, wait a minute, and wipe again. It will soften the dried wax and take it back up.

Keep in mind you don’t have to tint your wax a chocolate brown you can tint it whatever color you like. A darker version of the color you’ve already painted the piece would look amazing I have a feeling. Go crazy and do lime green wax on a bright pink piece. Actually I would really like to see that. Or you could tint the wax with white paint and put it over a natural wood piece to give relief to carved areas.

From this to that to finally done!

Yes I realize in the long run it is a few more steps than chalk paint but it also only cost (even with brushes) around $35 in supplies versus the inordinate amount that doing it with chalk paint would have cost me. So the pros, at least for me, outweigh the cons.

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The Kitchen Island of Misfit Chairs

It’s not actually an island it’s a dining room table, but that didn’t sound nearly as festive.

So we received this table from a friend of ours. Who had previously got it from another friend of ours, and by the time that “first” owner had it the table was already second hand. So with this project I had the opportunity to do some serious archaeology.

When we received the chairs they had a lovely teal fabric on them. I wasn’t opposed to the teal but they were a little sun faded and stained from years of use and the cushioning was breaking down. I knew our friend hadn’t replaced the cushioning when she reupholstered instead opting just to recover the existing fabric. Which truth be told, is the only kind of upholstery work I’ve ever done.

So out the staples came to reveal what our other friend had for her chair cushions. Each chair a different pattern. We had actually considered doing this, all the same color scheme just different patterns, but eventually I found a bargain on some fabric I loved and just couldn’t pass it up. This is very much her style and her current dining setup has all different chairs not just different patterns on the same chairs.

So off that fabric came…. And what a surprise. The misfits were not the last layer. There was the most boring khaki color you have ever seen underneath.

So off that came as well. To reveal the horrors…

Turns out all of that work was for nothing, the seat bases were delaminating. Also the actual cushioning material was made out of an old egg crate mattress pad. Which was slightly horrifying. That didn’t matter as we planned on replacing that anyway. But the wood for the seats would have to be replaced.

Luckily one had already been replaced, two owners back if the fabric strata are to be believed. So that one was excellent to use as a template. We simply traced it out on our new sheet of plywood, used the table saw to rip it down and a jig saw to round the corners. And hey presto! New seats.

Next on to the foam padding, once again using the already refurbished one as a template.

Finally after the couple of bumps in the road (and a coffee cup full of staples… that could have made for a bad morning) we could get down to upholstery.

I’ve recovered a few things before, like I said I’ve never done it from scratch. The only real difference I found is that because you’re pulling on new foam and placing tension on the fabric you can if you’re not careful run into puckering. As long as you start from the middle, alternate sides, work towards the corners and be careful how much tension you put on the fabric you shouldn’t have too much trouble.

And always remember that if you do get puckering you can always pull out and replace staples to relieve it, mistakes are going to happen and they aren’t permanent in this case. I had to pull out quite a few on my first couple of chairs before I got the hang of it.

When all was said and done, we had lovely and oh so comfortable new seat cushions.

We also had a pile of old fabric and a coffee cup full of staples.

Also note I did not in any way try to center my pattern… do yourself a favor and do the same if you are trying this for the first time, from what I understand it’s not the easiest thing in the world

Next up we will be painting the chairs… wooo hooo!

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Desk Part 4: The Break Down

So we went from this

To this

Then on to this

And this is what it cost

Desk- $52.00

Handles-$27.00

Stripper- $11.98

Stain-$8.49

Tung Oil-$10.07

Paint for handles and broken foot-$2.98

Glue and resin for broken foot-$6.98

Sand paper-$2.00

Steel Wool-$3.97

Brushes-$1.00

Shop towels-$10.98

Contact paper-$9.99

Gloves-$2.00

Grand total $149.44

A good number of these things (Brushes, wood glue, paint, stripper, shop towels, contact paper, steel wool)are things that either I just had on hand already or have some left over and will be used again for future projects.

In case anyone was under a different impression I just want to note that I am a complete amateur at this. As in, I’ve never done anything of this sort before in my life. There were a lot of firsts with this project. I had never used a rotary tool before, never stained anything before (at least not wood and not on purpose). I had never used Tung oil. I had never used a resin to sculpt something, never had to reapply veneer or try to remove shellac (hopefully I will never have to do those two things ever again). The point is, I believed I could do it. More than that I believed that this sad little cast off of a desk could be something beautiful again, and I’m so very glad that it’s my something beautiful.

Now I do believe there is a dining room table that is begging for some t.l.c. as well. But in the mean time I may need some smaller projects. If any of you have any suggestions I would greatly appreciate them. In fact feel free to follow me on Pinterest so we can swap ideas.

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Desk Part 1: Safety First

I could have called this “Always wear gloves and goggles” or “Shellac is the bane of my existence” or “Sweat does not evaporate in 60% humidity” maybe “DO NOT! Sand in 90 degree heat”. I vote not doing anything in 90 degree heat anyway.

There is always a learning curve and these are the things I’ve learned in the first part of this project. If you missed Part Zero you can find it here

Where do I start? Oh yes, the bane of my existence. That lovely shellac. In case you don’t know what shellac is, here is the short version. Its excretions from a tiny bug dissolved in alcohol and painted onto furniture…. Yes I’m serious. Click here for the long version. Why? I have no earthly idea. It’s not particularly scratch resistant, it turns white when it gets wet, and god forbid you ever want to remove it. It’s an old (I don’t know how old) piece of furniture so I’m not surprised that it’s covered in shellac. Over the years shellac has fallen out of favor to be replaced by much more durable varnishes and polyurethanes. This piece however was caked in a very deep red/amber colored shellac and it has not been fun to remove it.

So about removing it. Sanding sort of works. For the most part though it just gums up your sand paper. And if you were paying attention yes, alcohol will dissolve it. However you have to work incredibly quickly and waste a lot of paper wiping it away, otherwise as the alcohol rapidly dries and you’ve essentially just reapplied the shellac. For the most part strippers aren’t particularly efficient on shellac. I managed to luck out. I have a stripper that I’ve used on a couple of other projects in the past that is absolutely marvelous. Its non-toxic and biodegradable. I have no idea what it’s made of but it even has a bizarrely pleasant smell.

Unlike latex paint its not going to strip it off in lovely sheets that just plop off nice and clean. Instead it turns the shellac into this strange gloop, it’s like blood and viscera… let’s just say always wear gloves unless you want to look like an axe murderer

So after attempting to sand the top and resorting to stripping the whole desk it turned out not as bad as I thought.

Look, I found a water ring hiding under all that shellac and stain.

I also found some pen scratches and what I can only figure are cigarette burns, but after lots of stripping and sanding I found some gorgeous wood underneath.

The poor broken foot received a prosthetic. This is where goggles come in. Always wear goggles when using a rotary tool. Tiny bits of resin in your eye are no fun and also will hinder your sight so that using your rotary tool to sculpt so everything is all nice and neat instead of doing it by hand becomes a moot point.

The before and after of the stripping process on the drawers.

The drawer that had the cracked veneer loosened but has already been re-glued. It’s thick veneer (about 3/16) which made it quite easy. My photographic evidence of the repair work failed me.

It’s looking rather vastly improved already. Now just to figure out what to do with it now that it’s naked.