A Story of Two Rocking Chairs, Before and After!

About: There is nothing I love more then making something new and usable again that someone else would have thrown out or torn down!

I’m posting a real throwback today: The very first furniture project I ever tackled! Two rocking chairs! After we lost my Grandma we slowly started going through the barn, the out buildings and, finally, the house. The two ancient rocking chairs that we found were in wholly different places in their lives. One was in very good condition (having spent its days in one of the upstairs bedrooms) and was probably a child’s rocker. The other had not lived such a grand life and was the one piece that I was most skeptical about even trying to save so it was the first piece I began my furniture refinishing journey on. I figured if I screwed this one up it wouldn’t be a tremendous loss!

It was a big, ancient, oak rocker that was, rough, gnarly and rickety at best. It literally was the color of dirt and if it had been in a pile of wood in the barn I may not have recognized it as a piece of furniture. Because I was new at this I took the advice of someone and started out by covering the piece in hand sanitizer (because I was told that rubbing alcohol would be the best thing to take the old finish off and hand sanitizer made it easier to work with) and I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed until I hated absolutely everything. Eventually (and many hours and a lot of my skin later) I moved on to my electric palm sander and sand paper while cursing the name of the person who gave me the rubbing alcohol advice and then It took more sand paper (and more of my time, sweat and skin) then I ever could have imagined and I will be the first to admit wanting to give up on the damned thing more then once. (Knowing what I know now I would have just used stripper on that old finish so please take my terrible experience and use stripper if you have a finish similar to this one. I believe it was probably eighty year old motor oil that they used) It required quite a bit of wood glue and wood filler and, did I mention, sanding? But my old oak rocker and I survived it. And then, after sanding down the smaller rocker, I put them side by side and decided that those two old rocking chairs belonged together!

Step 1: The Finished Product

I chose a the Minwax dark walnut stain for them both. I love how it looks like they’re a pair, the little woman and her old man. I also covered them with three coats of marine-based sealant (I left them out on my deck all one Minnesota winter and you can’t even tell they got wet!). They have a charm, like a family, and I suspect that I will be enjoying the trio for the rest of my life.



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