Thursday, June 30, 2011

Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum (Part 2)

Well, it took a while for all the paint to dry (literally), but my storage bench makeover is complete! Okay, well- mostly complete. There's still one final step I intend to take once I can decide on a pattern, and that's to get some cute wrapping paper and mod podge to line the inside. Then it'll be finished. But in the mean time, let's take a look at how it's improved.

So this is what it looked like after I finished my first improvement: adding the upholstered bench seat to the top. Definitely an improvement on how it was before, but it still needed some work. Remember how I said that there were nicks and scars and scratches and a huge crack and a miscellaneous wax spot on it? Those had to go. And while I was at it, the seemingly unsalvageable water-marked condition of the wood could do with being hidden away. Out came the tools!

Paint, primer, poly-filler, brush, screwdriver, and sandpaper. I had a whole arsenal ready to tackle this chest. So armed with my DIY supplies and a handy furniture painting tutorial from YHL, I was ready to go.

There was just one problem I later discovered with my supplies. If you followed the link, you'll note that John and Sherry over at Young House Love suggest enamel- or oil-based primer and paint for wood furniture. Alas, that particular post didn't detail the reason why...but this one from yesterday did. And boy do I wish I'd read it before I hit up B&Q. The water-based paint I was using (trusting the lady at the paint counter to - I don't know - understand the ins and outs of the product she was selling!) has a much higher propensity to allow the wood to bleed through both the primer and the paint, giving your paint job a dingy and dirty "I couldn't be bothered to wash this...check out the stains!" kind of look. Shame the paint lady didn't warn me. I did mention that I was painting a wood chest.

You can see where this is going. Oh yeah, ma-hoosive bleed through on the lid of the chest. (Nowhere else, thankfully!) I shellacked that thing with two coats of primer, and probably four coats of paint until the bleed through seemed to stop. My fingers are still crossed that I don't have to re-do the whole thing at a later date. Lesson learned.

But, to start at the very beginning (Sound of Music moment!) with this project:

Numero uno: poly-filler! That giant crack in the lid of the chest had to be filled. That step done, I unscrewed the hinges and took the lid off. There's enough of a lip on this thing that if I hadn't taken it off, I'd have been left with 1/2" of unpainted chest. Which is just awkward.

Step deux: cleaning and sanding. The first thing to go (while the poly-filler dried) was that creepy blob of wax that had stained one side of the lid.

Grotty. Once that I was done, I gave the lid a good sanding and set it aside. Then, it was time to tackle the rest of the chest. There wasn't much on the outside that needed cleaning, but what needed it was dire. Remember the ugly hinge handles that came on this monster? They had to go.

It. Took. Ages. Seriously: after 5 minutes of fighting the rusted bolts with the screwdriver, my frustration peaked and I whipped out the power drill. And like the nail-biting climax of a super-hero movie, the rusty bolts - as my token Arch Villain - nearly defeated the power drill in a battle to the finish. But after another ten minutes (and some venomous swearing), the power drill and I emerged victorious on the side of good and good taste.

Sadly, our nemesis left behind this token of his long and unhindered stay on the chest:

I sanded that bad boy to within an inch of its life, getting rid of the absolutely disgusting pile of of gunk. The staining, however, had to be tackled by the primer and paint. The bolt holes were poly filled, sanded down, and then I was ready to move on.

Step 3: Time to break out the primer. Following the John and Sherry instructions, I layered on two very thin coats of primer to the whole of the chest; giving each one about an hour or two to dry before adding a new layer.

Step 4: after two coats of primer (separated by a trip to the gym), it was time to break out the paint. I chose a glossy white since we have a big white & blue aesthetic going on in our living room. Not to mention, a glossy white goes nicely with the white plant pot we have living in the bay window next to the chest/bench. The swanky new handles I got go with the brushed nickel-effect lamps we snagged last year at Ikea. It's all about the small details. :-)

Numer funf: yesterday, after letting the paint dry for a good four hours, I broke out the measuring tape and a pencil and figured out where to place my 96mm brushed nickel handles. Since I'd filled the bolt holes from the evil other handles, (which were only 90mm) I was going to drill all new holes to make sure my handles were centred. I measured and marked on the inside to avoid nicking the paint more than necessary.

In hind sight, I could have waited a bit longer (like until today) to attach the handles, but the paint was dry enough to manage it without peeling away in huge and horrifying chunks. Whew! (Big important tip coming!) Oh, and because I'm not the world's most accurate measurement-taker, I only drilled one of the bolt holes for the new handles after taking my measurements off the centre. Once that was in, I levelled the handle, marked where it actually hit the surface, and then put my second bolt hole on that marking...just in case I hadn't managed a perfectly even 96mm guide line on the inside.

So, having fought the demon of bleed through when painting wood with water-based products (never, never again), mastered the vile crust of the old handles, poly-filled any big gaping holes, and super glued any loose bits of wood, I was pretty much done. All that was left, once the paint had dried, was to screw the lid back on and see where all my efforts with painting and upholstering had got me. In case you're eaten alive with curiosity, this is where it got me:

I think that's about a 1000% improvement on how it was before. To recap everything that's actually been fixed so far:

  • the gaping canyon in the lid has been filled
  • the splintered boards on the inside bottom have been covered and reinforced with MDF
  • the old handles were taken off and replaced
  • an upholstered bench was made for the top to provide extra living room seating
  • the abused condition of the wood was hidden with liberal use of primer and glossy white paint
Since both the seat and the glossy paint finish are easy to wipe clean, those parts of it are pretty baby-friendly.  And, now that the handles don't swing, not only are tiny squished fingers no longer a worry, but my nerves won't suffer from having a sadistic child who likes the sound of repeatedly swinging and bashing the handles into the side of the chest. Everybody wins!

So that has been my first furniture re-finishing adventure. Well, at least two out of three parts of it. Personally, I know it doesn't match my navy blue and polka dots obsession, but I think I might hold out for the multi-colour stem print wrapping paper from Orla Kiely to line the inside.

Until my next domestic goddess misadventure!

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