Introduction: Restoring a Chest

This is a long story, thus please...have a sit.

When I was a young boy my grandfather (a carpenter of course) built a really nice chest. I remember that it was really cool also beacause of the ornamentation which was very simple but is some how "honest" with respect to the use of the chest. In fact I and all my brothers used to put in it tons of outdoor toys.

A month ago, when I come back home from university for holidays, I found the chest in my garage and I decided to restore it and give to it a "new life"....and in particoular to challange my grandfather in a CHEST WAR!!!!!

(however he is died so that I have some possibilities to win...sorry grandpa).

Step 1: Clean the Old Memories

First of all I would like to explain the situation. The chest hadn't the top, in the sense that, as you see, there was the skeleton but not the cover. Moreover, since I think not to be able to do such type of decoration as my grandfather did, I decided only to work on the faschion of the painting.

That's why it was necessary to do the following things in order to have a clean structure:

  • Remove the decoration (animals, plants....).
  • Remove the nails on the top.
  • Remove the top part.
  • Remove the green paint.

I had no clever ideas do to this works (in particoular the last one) so that I use the "brute force" method (and also some strumentation from my grandfather's laboratory). However the result was enough clean for my goals.

Step 2: Costruction of the Top.

REMARK: In the pictures you can see that everything is white...don't warry...just imagine it green. Essentially I made the work with an order but I decided to explain it in another better one.

At the beginning I thought this part to be brutal, but at the end (after a lot of errors) I did it.

So I used a piece of plywood a little big larger of the dimension of the structure. I just used some glue and some nails (without head so that they disappeared in the wood).

REMARK: Since the plywood had to curve to follow the structure I learn an important lesson. In fact, in order to let the plywood do this it was necessary to direct the wood grain orthogonal to the curvature.

So in this case the wood grain was direct parallel to the long side of the rectangle since the curvature was along the short side.

When the glue was dry I used some putty for some correction on the wood (very bad idea to use that colour and in general to use it, I will explain in a moment).

Finally, since the plywood was a little bigger then the necessary (Just to have some space in the case of imprecions) I had to remove the extra part. This was easy.

About the putty there were two problems:

  • As you will see I used a white that It has been diffoult to cover the dark putty.
  • My idea was to give a vintage/old fashion so that some imprecions on the wood were usefull

but it's fine...everything is experience.

Step 3: Some Magic Fluids

Now that everything is clean and repaired, before paint the chest I decided to use a transparent base on the wood to make it smoother and some wood stain to make the wood darker. You can see the difference in the photo...and it is quite impressive, isn't it?

Step 4: Paint and Sandpaper for the Vintage Effect.

At this point I painted every thing with white colour (three times in order to have a really nice and uniform painting).

When everything was dry, since I was looking for the vintage effect I did something like this:

I look for most evident wood grain all around the chest (not on the top since it was plywood and the effect was too different with respect to the rest of the chest).

Then , without electric tools (they could have done a perfect job....but I was looking to an "imperfect effect"), using an heavy sandpaper (P80 or P70) I started to remove the paint only along the wood grain previously selected.

Another good point to do this work are the corners and the edges of the chest.

I suggest also to let the big screws which are in the edges of the structure to come out...this gives a better effect.

Step 5: The End

Finally I had only to assemply the two pieces.

I also used some protective paint for the outdoor since my mother (who is also my boss in this case) has decided to use the chest for the gardening stuffs.

I hope you like it and in particoular that you can learn something from my errors.

That's all folks!


Andrea Maioli