Today I have all the finished pictures of the antique bookcase we were working on for a friend, so I’ll write about how we wrapped up that project, and the next project on the list. To remind you what we we started with for the bookcase, it was solid wood with a dark varnish that had wear and tear: I stripped, steel wooled, and sanded this down to the raw wood, which was time consuming for sure, but totally worth it in the end! Putting a lot of prep work into pieces like these that are solid wood and will be stained makes the stain saturate evenly, and gives you a smooth finish when you finally get to that step. After the medium grit sanding I was left with this: Then I did the important step of wetting the entire thing to raise the grain, and I fine sanded after it was dry. To give you an idea of how much this step improves the feel of the wood, here is a picture where I’ve fine-sanded the top level, but not the shelf beneath it. Its a big enough difference to show up in a picture! The entire piece was fine sanded, and then I stained it with a rag and dark walnut stain by Minwax. Here’s the before and after with the stain: Dark walnut was the perfect color, because it was dark (which our friends wanted) but it was light enough to show the beautiful wood grain of this piece: We did the same treatment for the wood-on-wood veneer back panel (strip, sand, stain) in case they choose to use the wood backing in the future. The next step was putting on 3 coats of water based polycrylic by Rustoleum. Between the 2nd and 3rd coat of this, I fine sanded to make sure the final coat would feel nice and smooth. Then, we took some pictures with the refinished wood backing option, just for good measure…. And then we moved onto attaching the wallpaper backing. This was by a company called Simple Designs that our friend found on Etsy (the link is in my previous post), and it is 2’x4′ fabric wallpaper with removable adhesive on the backing. We basically laid it out, and pressed it very hard onto the back with a little squeegee tool that came with it. Then we tacked on the back board, and it was done! Our next project is a set of pretty side tables that we’re redoing for another friend. At this point we’ve stripped and sanded them (the hard part!) and now they need to be stained and sealed. Next time I post, I’ll write about that project from start to finish, but just as a teaser, this is what the tables look like all prepped and ready to stain:
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:
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.
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.
After 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.
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!