Friday, November 19, 2010

Major Makeover

Check out the dramatic difference between these "before" and "after" photos on this 1920's bedroom dresses. Years of damage had taken its toll, as evidenced by the water stains, dings, and glue (the owner had glued some sort of piece on top of the dresser). After some major stripping and sanding, this dresser now has a new face.

Before repair:

After repair:

Monday, August 9, 2010

Refinished Chairs

This beautiful set of dining room chairs were in sore need of repair and refinishing. When I started taking the varnish layer off, you could see the dents and divets in the legs. In the back of the chairs, there were glued seams which had started to actually separate.

With TLC and a whole lot of patience, I was able to solidly glue everything back together (so there's no creaking), and I used “gunstock” stain, topped with a gloss finish. These chairs cleaned up nicely!

Friday, April 30, 2010

How I Clean Brass

Polishing brass is never easy. There are always nooks and crannies that are hard to get to, and as much as I like Brasso, it always seems to get stuck in these places and it’s hard to clean out.

Bottom line, when it comes to cleaning metal, it’s all chemistry. For brass, I use a pot of water, 1 cup of white vinegar, and a teaspoon of salt. Throw your brass into the pot and set it on boil. Once it starts boiling, turn down the heat just a little and that’s it. It takes a few hours, so the water, as well as the vinegar and salt, are going to need replacing. You’ll need to keep an eye on things. But in the end, you’ll see a remarkable difference.

Let everything dry over night. Some of the tarnish will come back, but that’s where the Brasso comes in. Use it for the final polishing.

Once you’ve finished with the Brasso, that last step (if you are not going to eat off the item) is to use spray lacquer to coat it. This will help keep it shine and prevent it from tarnishing again.

The only drawback is that your house will smell like vinegar for a short time, and you’ll need to find a dedicated pot for this process. Just don’t throw it away. You’ll use it again, and again, and again.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Rebuilding a piece with multiple types of wood

This piece was a real project. In one of its past lives it had been painted completely white. Later, when it was stripped and stained, because the majority of the wood had deep grain lines in it, and the white paint was lodged so deep in these lines, that instead of taking the trouble to remove all the paint, the option was to use dark stains to cover up what paint was left.

I usually start by turning a piece upside down. That way, I can see what the underbelly of "the beast" really looks like. In this case, it seems it had been rebuilt at least once, if not more. The back was plywood and the pieces inside the seating part were veneer.

Back of the desk before

The trick to getting the left-over paint out was patience and a lot of sanding. I started with a mouse sander and 120 sandpaper, then worked my way through the 180, 220, 320, all by hand. The top was rough and it took some time to get a smooth finish down.

Back of the desk after

As I stripped and sanded, I saw different colored woods emerge, and I wanted to bring these colors out. I used Colonial Maple and Natural stains for the bulk of the piece, and I used a Red Mahogany and Dark Walnut as accent stains. Patience applied here as well.

Two coats of poly, some Brasso for the pulls, and the piece cleaned up nicely.

The desk after multiple rounds of sanding

Drawers after

Top view of drawers after staining and sanding

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Rehab'd chest of drawers: from start to finish

Take a look at this dresser when it was brought to me...

There were water stains...

Extreme discoloration on one end...

...and general wear and tear that hid the natural beauty of the grainline. The drawer pulls were beautiful but tarnished and worn.

I started by sanding down the entire piece, and then I worked on removing those water stains:

Here is the back, mid-way through sanding...

Here is the side in the middle of repair...

And here is the final dresser, after multiple rounds of sanding and staining.

Look at how beautiful these pulls turned out. They were removed and soaked in a boiling vinegar combination and then buffed out by hand.

Top of dresser - finished

Side view, after staining and sanding...

The tongue-in-groove construction of these drawers gave me the idea to play up the tongue, continuing the stain around each drawer. This small detail adds to the uniqueness of the piece.

I was thrilled to deliver this beautiful piece to its grateful owner.