Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Double Trouble: Steamer Trunk and Vintage Crate (from scratch!)

I may have bitten off more than I can chew with this Steamer Trunk project, that's for sure!  It's both time consuming and tricky - but it does look loads better when it's refinished!
Here are a couple of 'Before' photos of said trunk.  You can't tell from these pictures, but the top of the trunk was badly weather-damaged and the hardboard on the lid was unsalvageable.  It was like a soggy book!  I had to replace the hardboard which meant removing all of the hardware on the lid! 

The inside of the trunk does look like it may have been the site of a body-haul...but I assure you, it's just some sort of pink dye.  Obviously something leaked!  I have yet to tackle the body of the trunk, but it will have to be stripped down inside...I'm now debating about whether I should take it apart entirely.  It's quite difficult to put back together!  We shall see...

After spending hours yanking out the original nails and hardware, I de-rusted them (everything, everything, everything was rusty).  Instead of using that pink chemical stuff to remove the rust, I decided to be cheap environmentally friendly and try a more natural approach.  I boiled up a brew of vinegar (my favourite - good for everything!), salt, dish soap and some water.  I boiled the hardware in this for...not long, maybe 10 mins, making sure all the hardware was under the water.  Then I used a stainless steel scrubbing pad (you know, the kind that look like silver balls - to begin with - and you can get at the Dollar Store).  I rinsed them and dried them well.  Rust be gone!  At least mostly, and good enough to be sprayed with some Rustoleum Black Semi-Gloss spraypaint. 

I removed the misshapen hardboard and dismantled the wooden frame of the lid so that I could strip off the old paper lining and refurbish some of the wood.  I filled in any holes I could find with wood filler and put carpenter's glue in any splits that had formed from the old nails.  When it was dry, I give it a really quick sanding (like, I practically just brushed the sanding sponge over the wood three times) and then the wood also received the same Rustoleum paint treatment. 

I had the good people at Home Depot cut my new piece of 1/4" hardboard to size and I covered the inside with a turquoise leopard print paper - no pictures of that yet.  You will just have to wait in anticipation! 

At an auction recently, I picked up 4 burlap sheets for FREE (they belonged to the auction client, who I knew personally, and she was happy to get rid of them.  I'll take your garbage anyday!).  I washed the burlap and dried it in our dyer.  FYI, check burlap frequently if you're going to dry it.  It would have been good for me to frequently change the lint tray.  Burlap is messy stuff!  I also hung it outside for days to let the wind blow off as much fluff as I could.  When I was ready to use it, it was in pretty good shape and only needed a bit of a brush down before gluing - I used an old dried out paintbrush. 

I used plain old white glue (again) mixed with a little water to glue down the burlap.  I used a lot of glue, both on the hardboard and then over top of the burlap.  I tried to be even with my application on the top and really get the glue into the weave of the burlap.  It took a while to dry, and when it did it was nice and stiff - and durable. 

I had a bit of an internal debate about whether I should have spray painted the hardware silver or gold rather than black, but in the end I stuck with the black...because I didn't have gold (or bronze) spray paint, and that's what I thought might look best.  I like the black on black. You can't see them in the pictures, but the nails I used to put the hardware back on are pewter and make a nice contrast - not too severe.  If I decide to stencil on the top of the trunk (a shipping company name or some such thing) I think the black on black is a good choice. 

The top is mostly finished except for a few places I need to add some nails (I ran out).  As I said I'm trying to decide how best to tackle the body of the trunk now...so it's just sitting in the workshop until I figure it out.

On Friday afternoon I came how with these in my trunk.  I'd been waiting to find a good reno somewhere in town and it turned out that a restuarant was gutting its insides - just for me!  A very lovely labourer pulled all of these lath and plaster slats off of their wood frames, with his bare hands no less!  Very impressive!  I loaded them up in the car and then let them sit out in the awesome rain storms we had on Saturday.  No need to wash them by hand when you can just leave them out in the rain, right?  I am soooo lazy resourceful!

The idea is to turn these slats and wood pieces into a Vintage Crate, or a series of crates, really...a la this: 

{In other news, I was asked to coordinate a friend's daughter's wedding on the day of the wedding as well as help pull together some of the 'artsy' details.  So let me get this straight:  I get to make things and boss people around?  And you'll pay me?  All my dreams have come true!!}
So, I thought, how hard can this be?  Not that hard, really.  This project was quite simple and rewarding as I was able to finish the making of the box in just a couple of goes.  I couldn't find the above picture until just now (who knows why?) and my subsequent crates will look a bit different (and use fewer slats), but it will all work out in the end.
First I had to knock all of the old nails out of the slats and figure out what sizes I had to work with.  I wanted to keep the cutting I would need to do to a minimum.  

I ended up using the original nails I knocked out from the slats to hammer into the pine boards I was using from the frame.  I had these boards cut to size at Home Depot, too. 

Some of the nails needed straightening out, a task easily accomplished by knocking them against the cement floor with my hammer. 

I hammered the slats onto the frames, and then cut slats for the ends and hammered those in, too.  I threw together a haphazard box in (what felt like) no time (but was actually a couple of hours...what with the nail hammering, wood sizing, cutting, and all). 

Of course, I haven't taken a picture of the completed box - that's next on the list.  Stay tuned!

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