Oldies but Goodies

DIY Intimidation

My definition:

DIY Intimidation – the terror felt when a DIYer looks at a project, and is unsure of where to begin. This affliction can be caused by large projects, inexperience with the type of project, worry about judgement, etc.

Finished product

Here is my latest DIY project. As I mentioned in my explanation of Why I DIY, I do love new furniture even though I am always trying not to spend money. My husband’s grandfather passed away last year, and left behind many beautiful antiques.

One antique that I fell in love with was a buffet. The piece is huge, and had seen lots of love through the years. The top was stained with water rings, and had many areas where the varnish had come off completely. The sides were in fairly good shape. The only issues were with bubbling varnish and nicks.

I have to admit that I let the piece sit in my barn for almost a year because it was so big and needed so much work I was afflicted with DIY intimidated (see definition above.) This frequently is the hurdle I have to jump when DIYing. Ideas seem really simple, but then you are standing right in front of the project and fear sets in. What if I ruin this family heirloom?!? What if I start to sand down the bubbles, and I ruin the stain everywhere?!?! What if I finish this and no one likes it?!?! -That last one is what I fear most.

Tangent: I was afraid no one would read my writing when I first decided to blog. I was worried that people would read it and hate it. I was worried my punctuation would be wrong, and I would misspell things. This is only the fifth thing I have written, but I realized WHO CARES?!?! I like writing, and I will keep doing it! I had to overcome my fear of judgement from others. Especially in a DIY situation, I have found people are just impressed that I did it, even if it isn’t perfect!

So again, WHO CARES if others don’t like the buffet? I will work on it, and I will fix it until I am satisfied.

Fixing History

Ok, so I didn’t fix history, but I did do my best to restore a piece of my husband’s family history to a workable state. I again read a few blogs, as I like to do. I am by no means an expert in re-finishing furniture though I have worked on quite a few pieces in the past.

This piece was different from others because it is valuable, and I really didn’t want to hurt it. I also wanted to maintain its integrity as an old piece. I decided only to take the top down to the wood, and just touch up the nicks on the sides. It is over one hundred years old, and I fully expect that it will look like it is over one hundred years old.

After reading an amazing blog, I found a product called TSP substitute that would remove the varnish off of the buffet. I read a lot about it before using it, and found that it can be a really destructive chemical. I donned gloves and bravely wiped it on my piece. I really didn’t see a difference, but I am guessing you needed a lot more than I was willing to use. It seemed like something that could destroy the buffet. (I do want to acknowledge that the blogger I cited above used it, and her buffet ended up looking beautiful! I am just not as daring as she is.)

Ultimately after gently rubbing on the TSP, I decided to sand everything off the top. I have sanded tons of pieces of  furniture in the past, so I was much more confident with this method. My power sander worked well, and it only took me an hour or so to get it down to the wood. On the sides, I hand sanded the bubbles and a few of the scratches.

Here is the top. You can tell it is lighter since I sanded the entire piece down.

I then found the closest stain that I could. This piece is DARK. I have not seen many things like it, so this was a challenge. I put three coats on the top to get it to the color I wanted. I also wiped three coats over the dings and nicks to blend them into the rest of the piece.

I re-varnished the entire piece to re-seal it. This also gave an even shine.

The piece now sits happily in my family room. The only bummer is that it is HUGE! The upstairs in my house is set up a little odd. My husband and I plan to replace the carpet and tile with a unifying wood. Until then, it sits in two rooms, but looks beautiful!


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