I've been wanting to do an instructable for a long time but was finally motivated by the Krylon Spray paint contest and a shot at an Ipad. As this is my first instructable I apologize if I ramble. There's a lot I want to put into this so I know that this is going to be very wordy. I'm trying to write this as I go instead of at the end.
This was written for the Krylon Contest but I've just entered it into the Green Living Challenge Contest. To be honest I don't think this deserves to win. Spray paint is a wonderful product but it's not green. What I'm doing is very green, upcycling stuff and keeping it out of the landfill is very green but to be truly green there are probably better ways that I could go about doing it. Although I don't think this should win, I'd be ok with second place :)
As a hobby, i enjoy refurbishing curb-find furniture and turning trash into show pieces. I take a lot of pride giving value into something destined for the landfill. I've done a lot of pieces where it's made to blend with the room decor and all that but where I have the most fun is doing really wild, bold, and fun art pieces. With curb find furniture there is a freedom that you just don't have when working on an expensive family heirloom. You can go crazy with color and patterns. Experiment. If you screw up so what? What have you lost? I also love using spray paint. The first pieces I did were with a brush and roller but I prefer the smooth finish that spray paint gives you. It's fast, bold & very forgiving. If you screw up, simply paint it over and move on. If you decide you don't like a color....change it. You can be trendy because it's easy to go over in a few years when styles change. I have to confess that for large surfaces I use a spray gun but I really prefer spray paint. there's no setup or cleanup time. just grab a can, shake and your good to go. When I first started doing "fun" projects they were for kids but I've found that grownups like them just as much.
There are many how-to websites and articles on refinishing furniture. they all read about the same....lightly sand then paint. It's never been that easy for me. To get a really high quality finish takes a lot of steps and preparation. I don't want my pieces to look like you simply took a old dresser and spray painted it. I don't like Shabby Chic. You'll never catch me sanding edges to make the paint look old and the only time I'll use the word "distressed" is when I'm having a bad day. There's nothing wrong with that, it's just not me. I want pieces that are sharp, crisp and bright. It's the difference between painting your car with.....well....spray paint (no offense Krylon) , versus having a pro do it. Both cars may be red and look good from a distance but it's readily apparent which is which when you get close.
When I first heard of the Krylon contest I was going to do one piece. At the time I had 3 pieces that I had recently collected. I didn't have a clear vision for each piece and couldn't decide on which piece to do for the instructable so I'm doing all three and make this more about the process instead of the end results. There are lots of tips and tricks that I use along the way that I hope people will find useful. I think these techniques can be applied to whatever project your doing. No matter if your piece is big or small or what your end goals are, the steps are basically the same.
here are the steps:
7. surface patch
9. surface patch
10. base color
11. surface patch
12. brain storm ideas.
14. accent color / pattern
** repeat 13-14 as required
15. clear coat
16. automotive polish
there are 17 steps there. Surface Patch happens 3 times. this is because many scratches & marks are not apparent until you get some paint on the piece. so it's important that as you build up layers that you inspect and patch things that you missed the first time or that maybe you didn't completely eliminate. Only 3 of those steps are painting (the same number of steps as surface patch), prime, base color, accent colors. The wonderful thing about spray paint is that, with a little care, it's incredibly easy and very fast. it's everything else that takes all the time. As a working professional with a family, house, dog and the whole bit, I have very limited time to give to projects. I can only work in hour chunks. It can take me a few months to finish something. I don't know if that's bad or good, it's just the way it tends to work out for me. By thinking of things as individual steps and knowing where I am in the process helps me from getting discouraged along the way.
83% surface prep
1% polish / hardware
TAKE YOUR TIME. DO NOT RUSH!!!!
My biggest enemy is myself. I get impatient and rush things. that's when I make mistakes that end up taking more time to correct than if I had done it right the first time. that's why I keep this list. I won't let myself move on until the step is complete. That's also why my pieces take a long time and why I wont' let myself have a deadline. (except for this instructable....) This sounds like lots of work and it is. With maybe the exception of repair, depending on your carpentry skills, none of the steps are hard. it just takes some time. For me it's therapeutic. it's very stress relieving. i can forget about the days troubles and just loose myself in what I'm doing.
THIS INSTRUCTABLE IS ABOUT THE JOURNEY, NOT THE DESTINATION
I have 3 pieces that Ive chosen to refurbish for this instructable. I was going to do one but I couldn't pick which one.
Assessment, Cleaning & Disassembly I have as 3 separate steps, and it helps me to think of it that way but I do them simultaneously before I ever take the pieces inside. I learned the hard way to really check a piece out. With items that you pick up from houses, pieces will often be stored in a attic or garage for years before finally being discarded. Apartment dwellers usually don't have storage space (or very limited) so things they throw out come directly from their living space. I made the mistake of taking a dresser into my living room and opening a drawer to find a mouse living there. lots of screaming later, I learned to check things outside before bringing them into my house or garage.
when looking at a piece, take out all the drawers, exam the inside of the case and flip the piece over. Cleaning and disassembling a piece also helps to get a good feel for the overall quality and all the steps that it will take to get the piece ready for paint. By doing this all on the same night it minimizes any surprises down the road and you've got a good idea of what needs to be bought. I have a pretty minimal budget for this stuff. my wife has this habit of insisting that silly things like food are more important than wood and tools. by having a good idea of what I'll need to buy right in the beginning, I can plan and schedule so that I'll have what I need, when I need it.
A QUICK NOTE ABOUT FURNITURE VALUE
Someone commented about being careful to not paint anything valuable. This is a very valid point. Before painting a piece look it over carefully. if you think it might be valuable then it's worth doing some homework before you start sanding. I usually try to do some research, not only to find out about the piece but also to help determine "market value"
here's a site that gives some good tips.
I've had 2 pieces that were worth saving. one I kept as is and polished it. the other piece was for my in-laws. that piece I refinished. I replaced the hardware with modern hardware to give the piece a modern look but kept the original hardware in a box so that if it gets resold it can be put back to original.
DON'T BE LAZY. TAKE THE TIME TO REMOVE THE HARDWARE.
One of my biggest pet pieces when I look at pieces that people have painted over is when they don't take the time to dissassemble a piece and simply try to mask around the hardware. When you look closely, you can always tell. This is one of the biggest differences between a $500 showroom piece and a $50 garage sale item (if your lucky). Don't be lazy. take the time to remove cabinet doors and hinges. if possible take out glass panels. don't try to mask around the hardware. if you tell yourself that "oh, no one will notice"...guess what.....they will.
so now lets look at the pieces.....I take careful notes as I go thru a piece, along with taking pictures. The pictures become a handy tool later for sketching ideas. I use the notes I take to develop a list of all the steps that will be involved.
PIECE 1 - The Card Table
this is a small 2 drawer side table. the quality and joinery are good. other than some minor scratches and dings the finish is ok. Don't like the drawer pulls....gonna have to think of something there. not really diggin the base but I don't have any ideas there. hopefully after some color it'll look good. fingers crossed. there is a mildew stain and crayon marks inside a drawer. looking like the drawers will have to be painted. top has some marks from paper sticking to it, and has some cigarette burns but overall is ok. Upper drawer rail is cracked. should be easy to glue. I was drawn to this piece because of the drawer design. Very Brady Bunch. reminds me of a deck of cards. Some color, design and new fancy hardware will really make this pop....hopefully in a good way.
PIECE 2 - The Ashtray
This is a circular post table with a dish ashtray top. the leg is loose and wobbly. doesn't look like it was cut square, so probably wobbled when it was brand new. the construction is crude. this looks like it was a high school wood shop project. don't want an ashtray so I'll want to give this a new top. I grabbed this from a neighbors trash. he's actually a rock musician. think I can find some inspiration there.
PIECE 3 - The Piece of Junk
third piece is a small bathroom cabinet with a metal top. this has been painted multiple times by hand. the paint is thick and sloppy. it's missing the middle shelf. the shelf supports are tongue and groove which I don't really like. the bottom shelf and inside the drawer has about 8 layers of contact paper. great. i hate contract paper. the metal top has to go.
this piece has really seen some better days but with some work will really sparkle. this piece will take the most work. To be honest a lot of times I'll pass over a piece like this but I thought this would be a good one for an instructable because it's going to be most in depth and should have the most dramatic before / after.
so that's my task....the good, the bad & the ugly.
Did I mention that it's July 6th and the contest deadline is July 31st. Did I also mention how most of my pieces take a long time and now I've got 3 in less than a month. certainly a lot of room for failure here. Ipad here I come......
Pretty self explanatory. just a few notes
2. scrub brush
4. old tooth brush
Mr Clean Magic Eraser
The first step with cleaning is a once over with a vacuum. The is mainly to get rid of cobwebs but also any other loose debris.
SCRUB SCRUB AND SCRUB SOME MORE...
When I clean the first thing I do is go over it with just mild soap and water and good scrubbing pad. You'll be amazed at how much a little scrubbing with clean up a piece. Clean the inside, back and bottom as well.
I've recovered several pieces that if the previous owners had given the piece a good scrubbing they would never have thrown it away.
Use a scrub brush and even an old toothbrush to get into all the nooks and cranny's. having a dirty surface is the easiest way to ruin a new paint finish.
with many curb-finds the previous owners were smokers. for that what I'll do is first scrub with soap and water. This is usually enough on the finished surfaces. It's the unfinished areas, like the back and bottoms of drawers that really soak up the smell. For that I'll scrub the piece with vinegar and hot water. this has to be to ALL surfaces inside and out. I'll let the piece dry then I'll sprinkle liberal amounts of baking soda in the drawers and on top and put it in my garage for a week or so. after a week I'll wash it again with soap & water. If it still smells, I'll do it again. I've only had to repeat once. My wife is very sensitive to smells so I make sure to detox a piece before it ever comes inside.
For mold/mildew I'll scrub it with bleach and water or Clorox Cleanup. mold, mildew and bleach are pretty nasty stuff so where a mask and gloves for this. Once the mold/mildew is gone, then scrub with soap and water.
Disassembly, is pretty straight forward. remove all handles. remove drawers and doors. remove anything that it is going to be replaced. take apart anything that will need to be repaired.
One thing that I do is i keep a piece dissassembled until the very end. having a piece taken apart makes it easier when your working with multiple colors....little less masking.
DON'T IMMEDIATELY GIVE UP IF IT SEEMS LIKE YOUR IN OVER YOUR HEAD.
Often I'll find problems that I don't know how to solve. Either it's beyond my abilities or beyond whatever time frame I'm willing to commit. Before abandoning the piece I'll do some research on the internet. I have yet to find a problem that hasn't been written about. Somewhere out there, someone else has already wracked his (or her) brain and written about so you don't have to. In some cases those problems are deal breakers but it's only after doing some research will I make that call. Let's face it, thats one of the reasons that Instructables exists. So that people can pass on their experience to make it easier for other people facing the same problem.