I am posting this on my Moms blog, since I don't have my own. She played a large part in the completion of this piece.
Rescue of a Lane Cedar Chest.
This cedar chest was spotted by my girlfriend on one of her evening walks. She came home and told me about it, with the idea that we would hold it for my mom to refinish (I'm always on a lookout for stuff for her.)
I went to go get it, and after getting it home and having a good look at it, I decided to tackle it myself. It was really rough on the outside, but had a perfect interior, and solid hardware.(good bones, as Mom would say) I figured it would be a breeze.....
I could tell it had a hard life, and carried with it a ton of history. It began life back in the early 50s as confirmed by the serial, and the post card that was still stapled to the inside of the lid. Lane makes some top quality furniture, and it shows.
I talked to my mom, who offered tons of advice on everything from material and supplies to technique and even helped out by doing the leather top for the lid you will see later. It was as much of a combined effort as two people can do being 400 miles apart.
I started by removing the veneer on the top, using wet towels and a steam iron. If you look back on this blog, Mom made a post last year about using a steam iron to remove veneer. This was for me :). I got a good ways through it, and got pretty good with the technique, but quickly realized it was a pressed board over the cedar, and I would not be able to finish it like I will the sides. I then set it aside and planned the covered seat top you will see later.
I started on the veneered sides, and it was slow going. I got faster as I went though as I figured out how much water and steam I needed. Removing the veneer revealed a dark wood, and tons of adhesive. I took care of that with a palm sander and started with 60 grit to knock off the adhesive. Then progressed to 80, 120, and 300 on the sander. I also removed all the trim, and most of it was discarded because it was unsalvageable.
Once I got down to pretty cedar, I used some automotive sand paper and a sand block to get the wood as smooth as possible. I went all the way to 4000grit.
At some point either before or after I acquired the piece, a part of the base broke off. It was veneered as well, but was just plain wood under it. I cut the rest of the base the same height, and planned to paint it later. I also found some cedar trim and replaced the pieces along the bottom.
I spent hours, days, weeks, and months sanding on the chest in my spare time. Please be sure to wear the proper safety equipment when doing this. The dust is really bad.
At this time, the chest took a spot on the back burner as life got in the way. It was months until I started on it again. I did however order the new lock set.
Lane has a recall on the old hardware because it latches every time you close it. This was causing issues with children playing inside them and suffocating because they are air tight. The new lockset only latches if you hold the button down when you close the lid. If you have an old chest, please be sure to get the new lockset. Especially if you have small children around. You can request a new free lock by going to this link, and inputting your info.
A new interest was stirred on the chest when Mom came for a visit, and offered to help me do the top. I still wasn't sure what I wanted to do, but I knew I couldn't let it stay like it was. We decided on a padded seat top, and Mom went out to find supplies. While I was at work, she whipped up a leather padded topper, and was installing it when I got home. Impressive to say the least.
I also decided I wanted to put something on the front. I wanted a Texas star, since I live in Texas, but was unsure how to transfer it, and how to apply it. I decided on burning it in, even though id never even picked up a wood burning tool. I ended up with a nautical star, since we love boating as well. I learned as I went, and I must say it came out pretty good!
The chest sat a while longer, with the cold weather, and lack of space in the garage causing delays. I finally vowed to complete it, and went to get more supplies.
The front originally had some trim on it, and this was installed with a groove in the cedar. When I removed this, it damaged the groove, so I had to find a way to cover it. I decided to use some household trim, to make a sort of picture frame like outline on the front. This would cover the damage, and make the front more interesting. While I was at it, I glued some sections of the back that had come loose.
I also picked up some rustoleum satin black paint, and some polyurethane sealant, along with a new miter box, brushes, rollers, and other bits and pieces.
I started by cutting and test fitting the trim, I then removed it, and painted it and the base with the satin black paint. 3 coats took care of it, and its a nice uniform color. I also installed a set of small slider feet so it wouldn't be directly on the carpet.
I then began the polyurethane coats. I started with a roller, and it caused a lot of bubble spots. I switched to foam brushes for all additional coats. I used 0000 steel wool in between poly coats to “sand” down the imperfections, and rough it up for the next coat. I used my air compressor and a dry towel to take care of the dust and fibers. I ended up doing 6 coats, waiting 8-10 hours in between.
The first coat was splotchy, and didn't look all that good, but the additional coats really started bringing out the woods beauty. Why anyone would cover cedar with some cheap oak veneer is beyond me.
The final assembly took place on February 18th, 360 days after I first found the chest.
My plan for it is to house my “guy” stuff. Things like firearm accessories, bags, cases, bits and pieces, and things that my girlfriend doesn’t like laying around. I'm sure it will last another 60 years or more.
Thank you for visiting and reading along on my adventure, and thanks to my Mom for all the help, and letting me post about it on her blog!
Here are some links to full size completed photos.