PAINT OR BLEACH
AN OLD WALNUT WASHSTAND COULD BE CUT IN HALF to make two end tables. You will have to put in one new side unless the old piece had two drawers and a center partition, which is sometimes the case. Add the rack section shown in the picture. Paint these tables and a coffee table to match.
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THE COFFEE TABLE is cj straightforward piece that could be made from shelves of an out-of-date bookcase, using the finished edges for top and shelves.
It may be painted to match other pieces in the room. Another way of having one cf these comfort-giving small tables that we all want is to buy unfinished furniture, which is not expensive, and paint it yourselflacquer red, yellow, or blackand paste on an attractive print to suit your type of room
Is now dont let that shabby feeling yet you down. There is no question about it when the furniture is clingy, spotted, peeling, the house looks shabby and you begin to feel shabby. Nothing seems to be right. You are apologetic. Why be so? Refinishing is fun! It is probably much easier than you think. It takes a little time and a little knowledge but once done, it lasts a long time. The satisfaction you get from turning out shining pieces is boundless! Time is wasted by trying to make a dilapidated piece look well with halfway methods. Face the facts. Determine what the ideal thing would be for both the furniture and the room in which it is to be used. Then see if you can accomplish it.
First, know what wood is used for the furniture you want to refinish. Heavy varnish stains and paints may cover a fine piece of wood or a very cheap wood; a hard wood or a soft wood; an open-grain wood or a close-grain wood. If you are not familiar with woods, dont let this discourage you. It is quite a simple matter to determine. Use paint remover on a small spot on the piece you intend to refinish and you will soon be able to tell what the wood is and the character of the grain.
Next, determine the type of finish you want. This depends on two things: the kind of wood and the color that would best suit the place in which it is to be used. Like most other things in decorating furniture, finish or color should fit into the decorating scheme as a whole. So dont be impulsive and refinish a dark piece dark when it might be a great improvement to show the natural grain of the wood, or to bleach it. Or to paint it some color. Certain furniture types are usually finished in a certain way. Fine 18th Century mahogany or walnut furniture, for instance, is finished to show the grain. But if you happen to have a heavy, Victorian walnut piece, your best bet may be to paint it.
Style has a great deal to do with the question: what you like, the kind of house you have, your draperies, accessories, and, last and most important, the kind of wear and tear the furniture will get.
The charts on the following pages tell you what the requirements are for different types of woods. As you see there is usually a choice of finishes. Select the one to suit your requirements. Read all the working directions first and follow the process step by step. It doesnt pay to cheat even a little. Buy the best materials: paint remover, stain, wood filler, shellac, varnish, wax, paint, enamel or lacquer as the case may be, after you have decided what you want to do and what you should do with your furniture. Select brushes carefully and buy the best. Remember, the manufacturers have done infinite research and are constantly experimenting to give you a good product that will do just what is claimed. So dont brush instructions aside.
Reconditioning old furniture, which involves some elementary carpentry work, is a fascinating job and makes many an outmoded piece live again. A bit of imagination in reconstruction and the paint pots magic will do wonders for you. Begin with simple alterations even get a carpenters help but do the refinishing yourself. And, whether the result shows the grain of fine wood or the right color hiding poor wood, you will find fun in doing the work and have lasting enjoyment in the finished piece. Refinishing is fun!
Below is an 1 8th Century knee-hole desk and a drop-leaf sofa table. The desk drawers have satinwood inlay and both top of the desk and the top of the table are covered in tooled leather.