Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Just Like Grandma's

Recently, a friend of mine brought me her grandmother's cedar chest. She wanted me to completely refinish it. Her grandmother passed away 5 or 6 years ago but she said that she wanted it to look so good that her grandmother would recognize it if she saw it. Wowzers! That's a LOT of pressure for a gal. It sat in my garage a couple weeks so I could conjure up the nerve while I worked on other projects. When I finally started on it, I noticed that the bottom left side of the chest was missing. One of the legs was barely hang on and fell off as soon as I put it on it's side. Off to work I went.
It had been sitting in a basement for years while people used it as a coffee table, a drawing board, and obviously never used a coaster on it when they put their drinks down. First order of business was to sand it down completely. I removed all of the gunk and old varnish from the top. I had a lot of deep scratches to remove so it took a lot of sanding. The majority of the top I sanded with an orbital sander. However, the waterfall edge had to be sanded by hand, as did all of the decorative molding on it. I sanded until my hands were raw for days, not 24 hours a day but I worked on it for hours at a time in my hot garage. That reminds me, I have got to find that fan! My dad got some veneer that matched and he made a new piece to replace the one that was missing. He cut a piece of wood, glued the veneer in place and mitered it to fit perfectly. Then he attached another piece of wood to the bottom and it looks just like the other side. The veneer isn't perfect and the color isn't identical but it looks really good. After stressing out about how it wasn't identical it dawned on me. It's physically impossible to view both ends at the same time anyway. HA!! There was another tiny piece of veneer missing on the top so my dad repaired that as well. I stained the entire thing after all of the repairs were made. I used a couple different colors of stain to match everything. The original cedar chest had contrasting colors on the different pieces of wood. I tried to mimic this and have it looking like new. Once I was done with all of the staining, it was time for the varnish. I applied varnish to the entire thing and sanded in between coats. I was applying the varnish in the garage while temps were in the 90's. Not ideal temperatures for applying varnish. It should be applied in a room between 70-75 degrees. The entire thing was done, finished, complete. So I thought. The top was still a little bumpy so I sanded it down again. Next thing I know, I'm sanding it down to the veneer again and starting over on top. I stained it again, varnished it a few times and thought I was done again. I told her she could come pick it up Sunday morning. Saturday morning I went outside the stain dried orange in a couple places under the varnish. So naturally, I started over AGAIN!!! I bought a new type of stain this time and it looked a lot better. I dislike working with varnish sometimes.
After all of that, it was ready for pickup Sunday morning, after working for hours Saturday afternoon and evening on it. I think she loved it though. She hugged me several times. That's all I needed. I hope her grandma is looking down on it and saying "Hey, that's my cedar chest".

1 comment:

  1. Wow! What an amazing job! I know who to go to if I need something refinished/restored.