There's rosemary, that's for remembrance.
William Shakespeare: Hamlet, Prince of Denmark



Monday, April 07, 2008

A project....

Last year at almost this same time I was finishing a wood trim border for the upstairs bathroom. It was a miserable experience because it had been several years since I had done any kind of wood finishing/refinishing. I had forgotten some simple rules like: Heat the garage BEFORE starting the project; put the stain and finish containers in the garage so they and the wood will be at the same temperature; be sure to get all of the sawdust OFF of the project BEFORE staining....and on and on. Sling is a master carpenter/finisher...and I mean master. He gave me some hints and the mess turned out OK in the end.



I have always enjoyed refinishing furniture and I have probably a dozen pieces of furniture projects in the house that I have done. The very first piece I ever refinished was a chest of drawers I found at the curb ready to be picked up as trash. I was a young mother living in an almost furniture-less duplex and my dad was a hobby carpenter. My dad drove his station wagon to the house where the chest was sitting, picked it up and within a few days he had repaired the broken and falling off drawer fronts, glued the chest to its sturdy former self and all that was left was the refinishing. I thought my dad was going to finish the chest, but he had other ideas. I got my first lesson in wood refinishing.



Here is that very first project. I stained it and the finish is shellac.....an absolutely miserable way to finish anything, but that was my only choice way back then (1962). The drawers still squeal when I open them, but the chest is beautiful and all of my kids got years of use from this chest.



I didn't take a before picture of the current project, but here is Violet (an added value to the picture I think) on the stairs. See the stencil? I was sick and tired of it so I painted over it (all 4 walls of it) and 5 coats later I was done.



Here is that same wall with our accurate location line...I am the wood finisher person, Steve is the put-the-wood-on-the-wall person



This is looking down the stairs with our two kind of accurate location lines. I think the bottom line is the one we will use. The wood trim will go up the stairs on only two walls.

Here is the project in progress in the heated garage....wood, stain and finish product all in one place at the same temperature. I sanded the wood and removed all of the sawdust, have applied the stain and the first coat of clear satin finish. I can never remember if it is called Urethane or Varathane.....but it is one of those finishes.

Here is the design of the border......I stained it colonial maple. I think it is going to look really nice once it is up.
This is the last refinishing project I did. A friend was going to take this chest its two matching side tables to the dump. All of the pieces were painted white.....hard color to get totally off but I did it. It took me all summer and part of fall 2004 to finish the three pieces.
I got this sideboard at a local auction for $80.00 Structurally it was in great shape. The finish was really dull and dirty with a few water spots on the top. All I did to this piece was clean it, rub mahogany stain over it and applied tung oil. See the crystal pieces on it? Those pieces are the same as the ones I saw at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

This chest was a HUGE refinishing mistake. It had been finished in the ever-so-popular-1970's white paint with gold flecks to make it look antique....honest. Some how the mirror that went with it managed to get sold at my we-are-moving-to-Idaho-and-let's-get-rid-of-everything yard sale. It was a miserable, messy job getting all of that damn paint off of it and I didn't do a test stain and it is dark, dark, dark. I left it in the garage for several years because I just hated the stain and it would not come out with sanding, paint remover or kicking it with my foot. Finally I put tung oil on it and hauled it into the house. It is growing on me. I'll post finished hall project pictures next week as well as a chair project that is not done yet (see the chair next to the sideboard that is half finished).
















14 comments:

madretz said...

I think ALL of these pieces of furniture are gorgeous! but most especially the sideboard. I wish i could go back and save a lot of the furniture my parents had, it all went to goodwill and i'm filled with regret.

jan said...

I'm totally impressed!! Furniture like this has so much character and charm.

Middle Child said...

Wow. Wonderful. I admire you. I can't be around any laquer type products because I seem to develop almost instant migraines and vomit till they are over...but I would love to be able to handle it because when I used to have a shot at it I loved doing it...way back

Mom said...

You keep surprising me with yet another amazing talent.

kenju said...

I'm impressed too. I haven't refinished anything in years, and I used to love doing it. I did a lot back when "antiquing" was popular (usually gold or green) and I still have a few of those pieces.

Sandy said...

Ohhh, I wish I had your talent! I'm in total awe of anyone that can do that stuff.

cs said...

Dang girl! You is GOOD! "Hey Sling--you got a mighty fine apprentice up here!"
You just have all sorts of trades that you do good at. Your kids must be loaded with talent too...nice work.

So...we had hail, snow, rain, sun, then all over again all day long...and you?

With weather like this, who knows what wonderful project you will be dabbling in next. Can't wait to see.

Auld Hat said...

It appears that Madretz and I have something in common. Great work Mama.

Jennie said...

Very nice jobs! I did a couple pieces when we were first married...before I knew what I was getting myself into. The refinishing job that is, not the marriage. tee hee

Ex-Shammickite said...

I used shellac when refinishing some maple kitchen chairs back in the 70s... what a mess. I still have the chairs but they're used in the garage/workshop now, mostly to stand on when looking for something on a high shelf!
I've refinished a number of pieces.... including a 100yr old oak mantel which had at least 12 coats of paint on it. It's in my living room.... looks great now!

Kimberly Ann said...

Wow, this stuff puts my ikea furniture to shame. Lovely pieces.

Violet said...

Very impressive work. I don't know that I would have the patience to take on a project like that.

Lilli & Nevada said...

Well it all looks good and you have a lot of patience to do that, Altho i have done a lot of things that i didn't think i would have the patience for. My biggest problem is i get bored if its not done in a timely short manner.
Great work can't wait to see the finished banister.

more cowbell said...

Dang, girl --- nice! I need your motivation and skillz to tackle the huge Chippendale desk (repro, I'm sure) I snagged at a thrift shop because I got there first and saw a line of soccer moms behind me on their cell phones, talking about the desk, waiting for me to leave so they could snatch it up.

I got it first. But now i live in a tiny teeny house, and it's sitting in the garage with a blanket over it, and the top is pretty beat up. I think I could make a bit of profit on it, but damn ... the work needed ... sigh.