Monday, July 28, 2014

"Henry" the Problem Child

One of the perks of my business is that I get to meet new people - whether I'm buying a piece to repurpose or selling to clients for their home. I met a wonderful lady named Lisa who was running an estate sale a few months ago and while we were chatting she indicated that she had a few "things" in her garage I might want to look at.

My jaw almost dropped when I eventually got to see her garage - she had the most amazing treasures! I was giddy with excitement and started piling furniture in my car almost as fast as she was uncovering pieces in her garage.

And that's how I met Henry. Lisa had an very old antique dresser that she had started working on and just ran out of steam. It was in great shape structurally, but just needed a little TLC on the drawers.

I was excited because she had already "bondo-ed" (is that a term?) and primed the top. Since the top had been primed, I knew it wouldn't be a candidate to restain the top. So I opted to paint the top in GF Lamplight Black and the body in ASCP Emperor's Silk. I waxed the body in both clear and dark waxes, and used a lot of Brasso and old-fashioned elbow grease to spruce up the hardware. I was so pleased with the result:

Henry went crazy on my Etsy shop with views and started trending on Google, but unfortunately, I hadn't sold him. So Lisa offered to take him to her booth space for me. As she was waiting to load him in her truck the day before her sale, she texted me and said, "You better come get Henry, there's a problem."

The spot on the top that had been filled was bubbling after being out in the sun! We were perplexed as to why it was doing that. I asked her what was originally wrong with the top. She said it looked like it had been used outside as a potting table and she suspected it was some type of machine oil. Apparently, the heat from the sun was causing the "oil" to rise to the surface. I was relieved that we caught it before she took it to her booth because we would both have been embarrassed.

I took Henry home and started sanding the top and gauged out the original bondo to see the source of the problem. The oil had penetrated all the way through to the underneath of the top. (Of course, I don't have pictures because I wasn't a "blogger" then.) I tried every concoction known to mankind to get rid of the oil. My husband and I took turns sanding, and then I tried an Oxyclean mixture to bleach it. The oil did eventually rise and we immediately sanded it off but it just wasn't getting the whole spot.

So Gramp's Workshop came to the rescue. My dad popped the old top off and built and routed a new top out of beautiful oak. The oak was too pretty to paint so I restained the top with GF Java Stain and applied several coats of poly. And with that, Henry was back on the market.

I sold him to a lovely couple who needed it for their beach cottage. After the cost of the new top, and donut bribes to Gramps, I barely broke even.  Consequently, I've learned a valuable lesson about suspicious stains on furniture and now take that into account when repurposing a piece.

I'm just happy that the problem child went to a good home and is hopefully behaving himself there.

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Monday, July 21, 2014

The "Free" Craigslist Table

One rainy weekend this past spring, I was going through withdrawals because all of the garage sales and flea markets were rained out. So I did something I don't usually do. I looked at the strange but wonderful world of "Free Stuff"on Craigslist.

For those of you who don't know, there are the most amazing free things on Craigslist. You can get free sofas that look like they have been through Armageddon, with really disgusting stains and torn fabric.

You can get dressers with missing drawers and broken legs. You can get "free" items delivered with a $200 delivery charge. And my personal favorite, free clean dirt. An oxymoron if I've ever heard of one. (I'm sure it's probably some sort of construction term, but I still chuckle every time I see the term.

And then my eye caught this listing. "Cleaning out rental house - come get this round table and chairs". Since it was less than a mile from my house, I grabbed my keys and youngest son (he was really thrilled with this adventure) and prayed the whole way the table would still be there.

It was. Sitting out in the rain. A beautiful table with leaves and four chairs. A little worse for the wear, peeling polyurethane, layers of dirt and grime, but structurally intact. My son and I loaded them in the car and proceeded home. About halfway home, my son turns to me and says, "Mom, this thing really smells." We roll down the windows and the whole way home I'm thinking to myself, "Now what have I got myself into?"

I put fans on the furniture for several days to dry it out. Fortunately, the water damage was minimal and there didn't appear to be any warping. Here's the table and the chairs in all their beauty:

I sanded, vacuumed, bathed the table and chairs in gallons of TSP, and then put two coats of shellac on the pieces so the "smell" would stay put. Then after several layers of primer, I stained the top with a "kona" colored stain that had built in poly. I honestly don't remember what this product was, but I know I'll never use it again. It was really troublesome and difficult to work with because the poly set up so quickly.  (I threw the remainder of the tube out so I wouldn't be tempted to use it again!) Then I painted the base of the table and chairs in ASCP Pure White and sealed everything with wax.

I sold the table and chairs within hours of placing it on Craigslist. I probably didn't ask enough money, but I figured that since I got the table for free, it wouldn't be good karma to gauge the price up. I know it's in a good home with the young family that bought it.

The moral of the story: sometimes "free" stuff on Craigslist isn't really free in terms of the time and effort spent into restoring it!

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Monday, July 14, 2014

The Secretary That Caused a Traffic Jam

I saw this secretary listed on Craigslist for a reasonable price and had to have it. Never mind that it was located in a beach community notorious for one-way streets and no parking, and that it was a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon - the height of "rush hour" at the beach. My husband wanted no part of this adventure so I asked bribed my son to go with me.

I ran inside to see the desk, with my son driving around Belmont Shores looking for a place to park. The really lovely lady tells me that it was Grandma Caroline's desk that was left to her and she needs to downsize. I agree to purchase it and she informs me it doesn't come apart! Meanwhile, my son parks in a no parking spot in an alley, races to help me carry it out front because it's too big to carry through to the back alley. He runs back to the car and drives around to the front of the house where I'm standing on a very busy sidewalk next to a massive piece of furniture.

Now four months ago, I had absolutely no idea I would ever attempt to chronicle my furniture escapades, or I can guarantee I would have documented what happened next. My son, the lady and I try to get a very long desk into a too short SUV. It doesn't fit, we can't get the door closed, and there are ten cars behind us honking their horns at us because we are blocking traffic. Then a man starts shouting expletives at us so I jump in the back of the car holding a secretary for dear life and tell my son to floor it. I've never held on to something so tight in my entire life! But it didn't fall out, we were able to pull over to a safe spot and angle it in the car so that we could close the door and we arrived home safely. Thank God it wasn't a long drive!

I got it home and started to work on "Caroline". She wasn't really in that bad of shape, the usual sanding, filling, vacuuming, and cleaning that seems to be the norm for the pieces I bring home. I carefully reglued the lattice on her doors because they were loose. And the lady was right - I found glue residue when I was sanding between the desk and bookcase - at some point in time the two pieces had been glued together! I was not going to jeopardize my fragile relationship with Caroline by putting her through more trauma, so I left her alone.

I painted her in GF Lamplight Black, with the interior of the bookcase in ASCP Pure White. The pullout cubby was in good condition, so I just used my magic secret formula (OK, Restore-a-Finish), waxed, and buffed and buffed and buffed her to a beautiful sheen. I kept the handles and just used Brasso on them and they turned out great.

I lined the drawers with some Waverly fabric that I had from a previous project and called it a day. Actually, more like two weeks!

There's a happy ending to this story. The woman that bought this piece went to just as much trouble to get it as I did the day I brought Caroline home. She drove two hours EACH WAY and had to borrow a truck. And so, Caroline made it safely to a great new home.

Did I learn anything from this adventure? Yes. Bring rope and flags to CL appointments. Either for the furniture or to muzzle the man who is honking and yelling at you.

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Monday, July 7, 2014

The Three B's: Bernhardt, Buffet and Black!

I spotted this beat up buffet at a garage sale. There was serious damage to a bottom corner and I wasn't even sure I would be able to fix it. But then I looked in the drawers to inspect them. Bernhardt! Sold! 

I was determined to find a way to repair the damage.  I knew the traditional wood filler wouldn't hold up, so I did some research and decided to try Sculp Wood. It's an epoxy filler that comes in two tubes; when you mix equal parts together, the chemical reaction starts the hardening process. I carefully applied it to the corners and smoothed it out as best as I could and let it dry.

The next day I sanded and shaped a new corner - it worked and was as hard as a brick!  I then spot primed the area and proceeded to just rough up the piece by sanding so the paint would would adhere. 

I knew I wanted to try General Finishes milk paint. I had seen some beautiful pieces done in Lamplight Black. And I didn't even have to prime this piece! While I was painting, I did a wet rag process to distress the piece. I kept the original hardware, but just lightly sprayed the pulls with Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint. Then ASCP black wax, and "Bernie" the Bernhardt black buffet was done! 

I sold this piece really quickly. But when the lady was getting in her car to leave, she told me she was going to repaint it white. Kinda wish she hadn't told me that.

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