Saturday, November 12, 2011

Another refinishing project

I have a new furniture project: stripping and refinishing the bookcase earlier this year went so well, I decided to try my hand at another one. A few years ago at a country auction I bought an interesting bedstead - it's rather plain in design - just flat wood with a small Art Decoish trim on the footboard - but it has one interesting feature: in the headboard, on either side, there are two diamond-shaped cutouts with glass in them, and behind the glass is a little light fixture! I guess you could use this to read by in bed, or else just as a nightlight while getting ready to sleep.

My sister saw a bed like this in Vancouver and really liked it, though I think in her case the cutout was a different shape - maybe a circle, like a porthole. Anyway, the finish has deteriorated over time, and on one of the side rails some of the wood veneer got damp and peeled off. I'm going to strip the finish off, try to patch the veneer, and rewire the electric fixture, to make this bed fully functional again.

I started early this week, simply stripping the finish from the side rails, and moved on to the footboard yesterday. I was so surprised when the finish started coming off. I'd thought the bed was some very dark wood, like cherry. It's hard to show in pictures, because the flash tends to brighten the grain of the wood and it DOES look like walnut, but these pictures are pretty close to the darkness of the wood in everyday light. I always mentally considered this bed as black - almost as if it came from the House of Dracula! You can see what it looks like with one of the glass windows illuminated. It turns out it's just light walnut veneer! There were so many layers of varnish, and it had turned so dark, it gave the impression of near-black wood. When the stripper went to work, the top layer of varnish just started to crystallize, and then the lower layers of stain (I had to do several coats of stripper) peeled off with a putty knife, just like icing on a cake!

Anyway, today I finished stripping the headboard, so the whole thing is stripped now and ready for a new finish. I'll go to Lee Valley Tools, where they sell small sheets of veneer, and get some to patch that one rail. If that fails, there's another trick I could try; the inside of the rails is also veneered, but with no finish. I could lift off a piece of veneer from there and use it to patch the front (sort of like a skin graft). Then I could patch the back with the bought veneer, not caring if it doesn't match that well, because this part will never be seen once the mattress is set inside.

I'll take some more pictures when I start working on the electrical part of the project, perhaps next week.


Blogger Priscilla said...

What an ambitious project. You should look up the blog called Miss Mustard Seed.
She usually blogs about refinishing furniture. I have don it in the past, and love the way old services come off. Something so satisfying in seeing the old come up and off.
Good luck with the project and have fun.

6:24 pm  

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