Antique Bookcase, Part I

A few of our friends have asked up to refinish some pieces for them, and right now we’re working on an old bookcase for someone. This bookcase is wooden, and has some nice detail near the top of the sides. Overall, its in good shape except for a few chips and a missing piece from the detailed area, but the varnish and stain has seen better days. The goal is to strip off the old finish, sand it down, restain, and reseal it. The bookcase started out like this:

               IMG_0870                     IMG_0869              
You can see the tiny missing piece from the top left side. We’re still brainstorming what to do for that. The first thing we did was remove the back, since it was a thin piece of wood-on-wood veneer that was tacked in with tiny pin nails.

            IMG_0871                       IMG_0872

The friend we’re redoing this for had a nice idea of adding an accent back to this bookshelf with some sort of wallpaper, and her inspiration was something similar to this picture. She searched etsy for a pattern she liked and found some fabric wallpaper with adhesive backing that is removable. These are a few of the patterns she found:

We’ll still refinish the back panel, so if they decide to take off the wallpaper at any point, the wood underneath will match the rest of the finished piece. Next, we started stripping the shelves with KleenStrip from Home Depot. The dark sludge came off pretty easily in most places, with only the occasional stubborn spot that needed a second application of the stripper.

IMG_0873After scraping with a plastic scraper, I wiped off the excess stripper with a rag and then used steel wool to remove residual gunk. The detail area was mainly cleaned off with the rag and steel wool and a small brush, since the scraper wouldn’t fit in the details. Finally, I used medium-grit sandpaper to even the wood tone.

IMG_0875                    IMG_0874

And then I repeated that for the other side, the two inside walls, and then the bottom of the shelves. The top of the shelves, the back wall of the bookshelf, and some of the detail areas are all that’s left to strip and sand right now! After the entire thing is sanded, we’ll vacuum off the dust, then wipe it down with a damp rag to raise the grain. Then we’ll do the entire thing over with fine grit sand paper to remove the raised grain. This is an important step, because moisture causes the grain of the wood to rise, so if you went straight from medium grit to applying the liquid stain, the grain would rise at that point and result in wood that didn’t feel smooth to the touch. Our friends decided to keep the stain color on the darker side, so we’re going to try out dark walnut and see how that looks. After staining, this will be sealed up with a few coats of polyurethane, and the wallpaper will be added to the back. Hopefully this will be finished up by early next week, so I’ll post the final pics then!


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