Sunday, April 28, 2013

Spring Projects!!

This is the first warm sunny weekend we've had since....well, I can't really remember when.  September, maybe?  This means not only is Spring FINALLY here, but so is the beginning of garage sale season.  So yesterday morning we headed out bright and early (like 6:30 am) in search of glorious riches.  Overall the search was pretty disappointing, however we did come home with 2 smaller furniture pieces to add to our ever-growing project stash.  This meant that I really needed to get off the couch and finish the last of my winter projects- an old antique stool we found for $4.00 at a secondhand store in Madison a few months ago.
 The stool itself is in great shape and sturdy (whew! no structural repairs!), but it was desperately in need of a new seat.  When we bought it, it was covered with a disgustingly filthy, yellowed piece of foam and a torn, stained piece of fabric.  It was so gross I just ripped it off right away without waiting to take a "before" picture.  Underneath that was a fiberboard seat made to look like faux leather (same stuff we used on our dining room chairs, but old and dried out), and under THAT was a filthy piece of old canvas that pretty much disintegrated when I touched it.
 And under THAT was the original cane seat which, despite the fact that it was falling apart, was a NIGHTMARE to remove.  The ends of the legs were covered with rubber caps which appear to be cane tips.  Somewhere there is a nursing home full of people who have been robbed of the tips to their canes.  These things were painted on, which made them a pain to remove- I finally had to just hack them apart with a utility knife and peel them off.  For those of you who know me too well, I will address your inevitable comment by saying that I too am amazed I didn't get sidetracked by a trip to the ER for stitches.

I could have stripped, primed and painted this thing, BUT it was already covered with SEVERAL layers of globbed on paint and I really did not want to deal with taking all of that gunk off.  

So I just sanded the whole thing to smooth off the old paint drips, washed it down with soap and water, and painted over all of it.  Rustoleum makes these great pre-mixed paints, so for this project I used their heavy duty indoor/outdoor paint in glossy black.  Because it can be used on wood, metal, masonry, plaster, or unglazed ceramics, the consistency of the paint is a little different.  It's super THICK, which means far fewer drips, but it's also harder to get a smooth finish.  

I decided to upholster the seat using a fabric remnant we found at the store for under $5.  I chose it because I liked the color and pattern, but also because it is an outdoor fabric so it should hold up really well and be somewhat stain resistant (important since you can't exactly toss a stool in the washing machine).  For the seat I used a piece of 1/4 in particle board that Lance brought home from work for me and some 1" high-density foam from the fabric store.  There's a good tutorial on DIY upholstering here, if you would like more info.

The brackets on the bottom are for attaching it to the inside of the base later on. I've done square upholstery before and had no problems, but as I found out from this project, doing something round is WAY different.  So while I'm not thrilled with how it turned out, it's going to be on the bottom and not even noticeable, so I'll just chalk it up to a learning experience and move on. 

And so, here is the final product- all ready to go to the antique mall:

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Spool Cabinet Upgrade

Those of you who read my last post may recall that I mentioned working on a second project while I was finishing up the night stand.  If you happen to be eagle-eyed (and let's face it, since most people reading this have Peterson genes, you are most definitely NOT) you may have spotted the "before" for this project in the background.

You see, back in the olden days (as in the 1800's) if one were to walk into a general store looking for sewing supplies, they would likely run across a spool cabinet.  Basically these cabinets were made by thread companies to hold and organize spools of thread- often in labeled drawers.  For whatever reason, these cabinets are extremely popular with collectors right now, which means they often sell for hundreds of dollars.  So a couple of months ago when Lance managed to score one at an auction for $20, he was quite pleased with his find.

Now to clarify, this particular cabinet is MUCH newer (1960's) and is definitely a reproduction that was part of the Triune line made by Drexel Furniture (designed by a father-son duo from Grand Rapids, MI as a matter of fact).  Nevertheless, it is a very sturdy, well-made piece that, with some work, could be a great piece.  I was DYING to get started on it, so that was my motivation for getting the nightstands done and officially checked off my list.

Because this piece is one we plan to sell, I had to resist my typically lazy ways and take my time to make sure it was all done in the spirit of fine craftswomanship.  I started by giving the whole thing a light sanding with fine grit sandpaper and then gave it a coat of primer.  Because I was painting over smooth veneer, I let the primer dry for a week to make sure it fully adhered before putting on the first coat of paint.  I debated about different colors, but ultimately chose to use just a basic Antique White that was leftover from previous projects.  The hardware is brass, which made it look kind of dated (and not in a good way) so I bought some spray paint in a brushed nickel finish to update it a little.

On the drawers, I wanted to give it a more authentic spool cabinet look, so I decided to use chalkboard paint on the drawers, so that labels can be written (and easily changed as needed).  There are tons of different brands of paint out there- most of which (ahem, Martha Stewart, I am looking at you) are ridiculously expensive.  I chose to use the much more economical Rust-Oleum chalkboard paint that is only $9 per quart at Menard's.  And (Hollander Alert!) I used a $7 rebate I had so it really only cost me $2.  Awesome! Time to paint!

And......THIS is where the project hit a snag.  I needed crisp lines, so I taped off the section I was going to paint, using regular old blue painter's tape that we had lying around.  After I painted the first coat, I happened to read a design blog that talked about how the blue tape does not work well for detail work because there is a lot of bleeding through at the edges.  They recommended using the green Frog Tape instead- more expensive, but MUCH more effective.  At that point I couldn't really go back and start over, so I just left the blue tape on and hoped for the best.  And "the best" was.... lots of black chalkboard paint bleed-through around the edges.  NOT good.  I tried using small artist's brushes to touch it up, but that turned out to be totally useless- the brushes were just too flimsy.  So for some reason I got the idea to use....Q-tips!!!?  And as it turns out, they worked perfectly and I was able to do a nice straight, uniform edge of white paint to cover up all the black splotches.  Once that all dried, I gave the whole thing (minus the chalkboard part, obviously) a thin coat of clear polyurethane so it will stand up to a little more wear and tear and minimize paint chipping.

FINALLY today I was able to put the whole thing back together and see the finished product:

The hardware is shaped in a way that if the picture isn't taken from perfectly straight in front of the cabinet, it looks like the drawer pulls are crooked, which made my picture-taking a little frustrating, but whatever.  I am VERY happy with how this turned out!!!  Maybe I'll keep it around and admire my handiwork for a while before we take it over to the antique mall......

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Nightstand Nightmares: The Sequel

Since the completion of my last night stand project, I have been busy amassing new projects while successfully ignoring the fact that we are still in need of a second night stand.  We actually have an old one that Lance has had since he was but a wee tot and the plan was to paint it to match the other one.  But I was already dreaming of new things and wasn't all that motivated to paint yet another nightstand gray and white.  Finally I set a goal for myself that I could not start something new until I finished this one, and then sort of cheated by starting this and another project at the same time.  

So, this was my starting point:

A basic 40's-50's style 3-drawer nightstand (in the background you can view a glimpse of my other work in progress, but that's for another post).  This stand is made from soft wood (pine?) and is full of tons of dents and scratches.  I opted not to fill those in with wood filler because I figure it's just going to collect more dents as time goes on anyway, so filling them in now is pretty futile.  

I started by removing the wooden drawer pulls and sanding the whole thing down with fine grit sandpaper.  This took less than 10 minutes because the wood is so soft and there was only a thin layer of stain.  I then did just one coat of primer (leftover from house projects- same as last time), two coats of paint, and one coat of clear satin polyurethane on the top and drawer fronts.  And I added the same vintage style black glass knobs to match the other stand.  And here is the final result:

It's taller and quite a bit smaller than the other one, but the way the space is laid out, there isn't really enough room for a larger night stand in this corner.  So instead of two of the same ones, we just opted for same colors and different shapes.

So now that this project is finished....the felines have yet another thing they can climb from which to dive bomb our heads in the middle of the night.  Great.