Introduction: 70s Record Cabinet Upcycle With Coffee Stain and Chevron Doors!
Maybe you found an amazing old record cabinet at a flea market. Or maybe, like me, you were fortunate to have one handed down to you. These stapes of 70s music storage bring tons of character to a room (hello MCM!), but after decades of use, they all likely need some updating.
We gathered up some wood veneer and went to work upcyling a 70s record cabinet into a modern, beautiful piece. And best of all? It was stained something most people have around the house: coffee!
So brew yourself a cup of Joe (but leave some grains for this project) and let’s get started!!
Old record cabinet
Coffee grains (dark roast)
Cleaning solution of your choice (we used water/vinegar)
150 grit sandpaper
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Step 1: Watch the Video!
Staining with coffee is definitely part art and part science. We did several tests with the coffee before deciding on the final techniques, all of which are included in the video.
Step 2: Make Coffee Stain (Two Methods!)
Gather the following materials: three mason jars with lids, paper towels, sharpie, coffee, water, steel wool, white vinegar.
Notes: You will make three solutions to accomplish this look. The steel wool and vinegar solutions will oxidize and help darken the coffee stain on your piece. Plan to make these mixtures at least one day in advance of when you want to stain your piece.
Coffee/Water Solution: Fill the mason jar about 1/3 of the way with coffee grounds. The darker the roast, the darker the stain will be. Attach lid to coffee/water solution, label and let sit overnight (at least).
Coffee/Vinegar/Steel Wool Solution: Fill the mason jar with 1/3 coffee grounds. Unbundle a piece of steel wool and insert it into the mason jar, on top of the coffee grounds. Fill jar with white vinegar. DO NOT SEAL THE JAR. There will be a chemical reaction between the steel wool and vinegar, and it needs to be able to breathe. We used the threaded ring that came with the jar to secure a paper towel over the top. Label and let sit overnight (at least).
Vinegar/Steel Wool Solution: Unbundle a piece of steel wool and insert it into the mason jar, on top of the coffee grounds. Fill jar with white vinegar. DO NOT SEAL THE JAR. There will be a chemical reaction between the steel wool and vinegar, and it needs to be able to breathe. We used the threaded ring that came with the jar to secure a paper towel over the top. Label and let sit overnight (at least).
Step 3: Test Stain on Your Wood
Gather the following materials: scrap wood (same kind that you will be staining), all three solutions you made in the step above, sharpie, paint brush, paper towels, and painter’s tape.
- Strain all three of your solutions into clean mason jars. You definitely don’t want the coffee grounds or steel wool bits getting stuck on your piece.
- Divide the wood you will be using on the final project into a few sections using painter’s tape.
Note: Different types of wood will have different result with the stain, which is why it's important to test on the exact wood you will be using.
- Label the sections with a sharpie.
Note: The Coffee/Water solution + the Steel Wool/Vinegar solution are meant to be used in a two part application. We explain this in the video fairly early on. Know that the longer the vinegar/wool solution stays on the wood, the darker (and bluer) it will turn. The Coffee/Vinegar/Steel Wool solution is an all-in-one application.
- Play around with testing these methods until you get the desired effect.
Ultimately, we liked using the following: 4 Layers of Coffee/Water solution 4 Layers of the Coffee/Water solution and then SECONDS of the Vinegar/Steel Wool solution (wipe it off immediately after applying). Leaving the Vinegar/Steel Wool solution on for a little longer to get a little more darkness.
Step 4: Disassemble and Clean Record Cabinet (Cut New Pieces If Necessary!)
Gather the following materials: wood veneer, screwdrivers, cleaning solution, 150 grit sandpaper, and potentially extra wood and saws (if you need to build new pieces).
- Start by taking the doors, legs and handles off of the cabinet.
- Disassemble the record cabinet by locating all of the hardware. Ours only had 4 brackets inside, so it was pretty easy to get it apart.
- After decades of use, we needed to replace the doors and bottom shelf, so we cut new pieces for those.
- For the pieces that we planned to reuse, we cleaned those with a water/vinegar solution and then sanded with 150 grit sandpaper to provide some grip for the veneer.
Step 5: Cut and Apply Wood Veneer to Record Table Body
Gather the following materials: iron-on wood veneer, screwdriver, table parts, iron, aluminum foil, utility knife and rolling pin (or small roller).
Note: You’ll want to be sure to follow the instructions on your specific veneer. Below is what ours asked us to to do.
- Use a sharp utility knife to cut the veneer a little larger than the piece you want to cover.
- Heat iron to setting indicated on your wood veneer instructions (ours asked for the Cotton setting).
- Place veneer on top of your table piece.
- Lay down a piece of unwrinkled aluminum foil.
- Iron using gentle pressure and keep the iron moving until the glue has started to grab.
- Roll the roller in the direction of the grain to ensure an even application.
- Let cool.
- Repeat until all exterior surfaces have been covered.
- Don't forget the edges!
- Trim the excess to the exact size using a utility knife.
- Reassemble the table.
- If desired, paint the inside of the table a fun color after you've applied the veneer. We did! ;)
Step 6: Stain Record Table and Legs
Gather the following materials: table pieces and legs, coffee stain solutions, brush, extra rag, heat gun.
- Apply the stain using the methods that you liked the best on your test pieces.
- Always brush on in the same direction as the grain of the wood.
- Don't forget the edges!
- Remember that this is a water-based stain, which may cause the wood veneer to bubble.
- You can fix any bubbles by reheating the surface (we used a heat gun) and pressing them back into place.
- If you use the heat gun to speed along the drying process, don’t use too hot of a setting or the glue will get tacky again and could cause the veneer to release from the table.
- Don’t forget to stain the legs, too!
Step 7: Make the Chevron Doors
Gather the following materials: wood veneer, utility knife, coffee stain, speed square, ruler, coffee stains, heat gun, foil, utility knife
- Use utility knife and ruler to cut out thin strips of veneer with 45 degree angles on each side.
Note: A speed square can help get the exact 45 degree angle. We made sure to vary the direction of the grain, as well as the thickness of the pieces for added effect. In doing this, we weren't aiming for the chevrons to line up perfectly with each other between rows.
- Stain the pieces using a range of staining methods (as noted above) BEFORE applying them to ensure that your lines between each piece are more definitive.
The three versions we used were: 4 layers of coffee stain on some, the light (mere seconds) application of the vinegar and wool solution on top of coffee stain, and then the rest we let get super dark with the coffee/vinegar/wool combination.
The water-based stain on the wood turned them into little curly Q’s, but they naturally straightened out a bit once dry.
- Let stains dry completely.
- Mark three guide points on the board.
- Lay out the first few pieces on the top row, lining up the bottom of the chevrons in the middle of the board (it’s okay if there’s overhang on the top - that can be cut to size later.
- Iron only the tops of the pieces and continue until the full row is fully attached. Securing only the tops makes it MUCH easier to make adjustments, as needed.
- Once you’re confident that everything is lined up correctly, fully iron the rest of the row.
- Make any needed tiny adjustments with the utility knife before moving on to the next row.
- Repeat until you have covered both doors.
- Cut any overhang.
- If you built new doors, drill holes for the handles from the front to prevent tear out on your wood veneer.
Step 8: Complete Finishing Touches
Gather the following materials: polyurethane, screwdriver, original hardware/handles
- Apply a coat of polyurethane to the cabinet and doors.
- Allow to dry overnight.
- To clean the door handles, soak them in a vinegar and water solution for a while (time will depend on how dirty they are) and then scrub them with a wire brush.
- Reattach handles using the original screws.
- Re-insert doors in their tracks and enjoy!
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Third Prize in the
Coffee Speed Challenge