Cedar Hope Chest
Over the winter, I started refinishing 3 pieces of furniture at the same time...because 1 was clearly not enough! The bench we use as a coffee table in Jackson's playroom got a brand new vibe. Our former dining table was transformed into the farmhouse desk and workspace for my home office. And I STARTED stripping the cedar chest my grandfather gave to my grandmother as an engagement gift. But I got so burnt out that unfortunately, the chest was left in the garage to wait until I found my energy again.
After 9 months (!!!) I finally finished this beautiful heirloom piece and returned her to our primary bedroom where she belongs. Read on to see how I did it!
Because I knew cedar has a red tone to it, I assumed there wasn't much to strip away to expose the raw wood. I sprayed the entire chest with oven cleaner and scrubbed away only to find that not much of the finish was removed. NOTE: If you want to see my honest opinion about using oven cleaner, read this post!
I decided to use citristrip to remove the rest of the finish but still struggled with removing all of the old stain. That's the thing about refinishing old furniture...you just don't know how much junk there is to remove until you start! What I thought would be an easy strip turned out to be just as time consuming as the other pieces I had already completed. So with 50% of the work done, I walked away.
Don't let my experience discourage you from restoring an antique piece! While it's not a difficult job, it can be time consuming. But it is 100% worth it! Just be patient!
With most of the finish and stain removed I started sanding with 150 grit and my orbital sander. This helped to remove the remaining dark spots left by stain. I didn't realize how much lighter the wood would be!
You might remember I used foam sanding pads from Surf Prep for our new dining table. I was able to use them on all of the curved details on this chest which saves me so much time! I have a discount code for Surf Prep if you'd like to try them yourself! Use code RURALLEGEND10 for 10% off your order!
I finished my sanding process with 320 grit for a soft smooth surface. Pro tip: after sanding, wipe down your piece with a damp rag. The moisture will lift the wood grain. Once it is dry, sand again and continue this process until you have a buttery smooth finish!
I also applied a thin polyurethane coat in a matte finish to protect the wood. I'm so grateful to have this piece of family history in my home!