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......

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