The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. This post about these antiques that we are renovating- has it all. The Good? They are GORGEOUS. The Bad? The Beetles. The Ugly? Layers of scrubbing and cleaning- and finding Swiss cheese areas where the beetles enjoyed more than just a few nibbles.
Today it is all about the cleaning and repairing these antique treasures and how they are turning out.
Where we started
I shared these antique pieces we picked up a couple of weeks ago – and the amazing price they were- FREE. But that is with a caveat. They were Free in the sense that they didn’t cost anything- but the amount of work that they took to fix- well…that is a whole other story.
My shoulder, my arms, my back, you name it- ALL yelling at me quite loudly the past couple of days. The lacrosse ball my son gave me to roll on? My bff now. I have had a shoulder issue for probably 10 years now- but when it gets as big a workout as it has the past few days- well- it is just.not.happy. Though, the bonus of all that work and lifting? My arm muscles look pretty good. haha. 🙂 And the pieces? They are looking AMAZING. But we aren’t quite ready for the big reveal just yet- today is all about the process, what we found while we worked and where we are now.
The Old Finish
We let them sit for a week- and watched each day to see if there were any signs of an active beetle infestation. To be honest, there were So many holes- that even just moving the piece slightly caused some dust to pour out somewhere. We did see some sprinkling of ‘dust’ that we wondered if was new or just us shaking the piece while adjusting it- but not really a whole bunch that looked fresh. We decided better to just go ahead and use the beetle spray either way.
The first step before you use the beetle spray is to remove the finish. I know- so many of you (and me) didn’t mind the dark stain. And know that I don’t alter finishes on antique pieces usually. I love the patina. The age. The charm of that old finish- whatever it looks like. BUT with these pieces – in order to treat them for the beetles that had been making them look like a piece of Swiss cheese- the finish had to come off. And on top of that- these pieces had already been repaired and refinished- likely to treat for the beetles before. So, we were not removing the original. We were removing the redo finish in order to try to save them.
NOTE: SAFETY FIRST: Always use safety protective gear when working with any type of chemicals. Gloves and eye protection- a mask for fumes and particles, etc. – read and follow the guidance suggested with whatever product you are using. It is Important.
We applied the citristrip and let it do it’s thing. After it sat for half the day, we checked to see how the finish was coming off. And to be honest, as we wiped and scrubbed the finish- it didn’t look like it was doing anything. But – as it dried, we could see the lighter wood underneath coming through.
The mirror and one the sideboard required a second coat – and there were a couple areas on the cupboard that did as well. The finish came off unevenly- and on some boards didn’t come off at all. Back to square one- and repeated the steps.
After we scrubbed that second layer off- we used a mix of ammonia and water to wipe the pieces down to remove the chemicals and gunk.
No way around it- stripper is gross. It gets gunky. It is not the easiest to remove when using on carvings because you can’t use a nice flat scraper to just take it off. We had scrub brushes – but even those didn’t do the greatest of jobs. SO, wiping down, using a little pick tool and a whole lot of muscle work was what it took. And that is one of the reasons why my bad shoulder is yelling at me right now.
Nope not talking about ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ Beetles that make you want to dance. We are talking wood eating beetles. They are like termites. They chew and tunnel and eat through all that amazing wood. And they don’t care if they ruin it unfortunately. While working on the cupboard- we found a piece broken by a hinge. When my husband looked closer- a chunk of wood broke off. Though if you found it somewhere else- you would not know it was wood. SPONGE folks. Nothing but sponge. Oy vey.
SO, we had to decide if we should repair the whole section or try to fill the sponge. My husband used wood glue and bits to fill the area and try to repair first- if that didn’t work, we would have to use a long bracket or replace the wood. Thankfully, that seemed to do the trick and the hinge is stable. We then painted on a beetle bug chemical – making sure to get it EVERYWHERE. On the back, the drawers, the shelves, the underneath and in all.the.holes. And then – we let it dry. You can then wipe down the wood to clean it again after that step.
Well, so here we are with these pieces looking a little dry but oh so beautiful. The next step is to find a wax that won’t change the color. Because, after all that work to remove the finish to get to the raw wood- I would like it to stay that color. Even a no color wax will darken it some- and may bring out some of the color in the contrasting wood that was replaced at one point. So I am on the search for the right type of wax and also thinking of using a lime wax to keep the lighter look. That wax arrives next week.
Is coming your way next. We are in process of moving these pieces into the house and getting them ready to wax and then share. And I am OBSESSED with how they turned out already so am excited to see them with their finished wax and styling.
Stay tuned for more on that- and for a fun outdoor post coming your way tomorrow.
Happy Wednesday all!