August 29, 2013

The Big Refinish

While buying paint recently, from the mistints section of the hardware store, I spied this:

The enormous dent in the can resulted in a price reduction - $8.  How could I resist?  

Circa 1850 and I go way back.  Here I am at twenty, which is when I finished my first piece of furniture.  My Dad had died unexpectedly and I was a mess.  I wasn't working, I had dropped out of school and I was a little too into yoga and crossword puzzles.  I went to New Jersey to live with my mother for a few months.  My Mom thought that I needed a project; she thought that the refinishing process would be good for me.   

circa 1990 - old $60 desk purchased at auction.  Can you spy the two cans of Circa 1850?

Initially, I didn't really care for refinishing much - the chemicals stank and it was exceedingly messy work - but of course Norma Joan was right in the end.  I was quite pleased with the results of my labour:

The desk, 24 years later.   
Aesthetically, I am not especially fond of this desk as the style is not to my taste; however,  I have dragged it around with me from house to house and I am proud of the work that I put into it.  I guess I've decided to keep it, as a symbol of what hard work and perseverance can accomplish.  

When I returned to Canada a few months later, I followed the desk up with my girlhood dresser.  A hot pink behemoth - it needed to be returned it to its former glory.   What beautiful wood languished beneath all those layers of paint?  Many hours of stripping, sanding and oiling later, this was the very satisfying result:

I think it's walnut.

I haven't refinished a thing since I was pregnant with number one in 2003.  (It makes perfect sense to refinish furniture while one is pregnant, yes? shudder.  What was I thinking?  Clearly, I was not!)

Purchased from Value Village for $8, here's the mirror that I refinished while pregolski.  Someone had painted it greyish blue, but I knew it wood be beautiful when I was finished with it.  No before pics, sorry.  

Not the best photo, but the mirror is huge and it turned out amazingly well.  It hangs in our main floor loo.

In the Spring, my mother tried to sell this chair in a yard sale.  There were no takers.  Shocking, I know.

I think it's a kid's chair, but I like it.  I need something in my front hall for people to sit on when they're
removing galoshes.  No one I know actually wears galoshes, but I really like that word.  My Dido used to wear them and for some reason, I was always fascinated by them. I wanted a pair, but it seems to me that only men wore them back then.  For those of you who are puzzled by the word, galoshes are black rubber overshoes that protect your "real" shoes from slush, snow, mud, puddles and the like.  But once again, I digress.

I am ready to tackle a new refinishing project.  And so I dragged the chair to the basement and assembled the following items:  a putty knife, paper towels, kraft paper, steel wool, big orange rubber refinishing gloves and a garbage can.  I covered our old computer desk with the kraft paper so as to avoid a mess later on and set to work.

Here's the chair after I applied some stripper.  You're supposed to use a paint brush but I couldn't find one that I wanted to ruin, so I used some of those forest green dish scrubbies instead.  The scrubby works quite well actually.

Double, double, toil and trouble.  Stripper burns and stripper bubbles.   

Notice how the finish is bubbly on the left side? That's where I applied the stripper.  It is important to let the chemicals do all the work for you.  Wait a few minutes after applying the stripper and the old finish is easily scraped off with a putty knife and wiped onto a paper towel.

I am midway through the project and expect to be finished it next week.  I have removed almost all of the old paint and the next job is to sand it down a bit with some steel wool and more stripper, which will remove the rest of the finish.

More pictures and the big reveal to come...