How to Restore an Antique Chest

Restoring an antique chest is a hobby to most DIY people. And how wouldn't it be, when the result is a great new chest, and a restored life to an old piece of furniture. The first thing you should know about antiques in general, is that they are collectibles, meaning that they can have some value due to uniqueness, desirability, emotional connection, beauty and utility; but most of all because of their considerable age. So, if you do own an antique chest, consult an expert to make sure that it’s not something of great value , and then consider restoration. The restoration process goes through 3 phases:

1. Cleaning — you need to clean the antique chest in order to get the real idea of what needs to be fixed on it. The dust and dirt have probably covered the entire chest not allowing you to see what actually needs to be repaired. To clean a chest, take a cloth, a sponge or an oil-based cleaner and make sure you cover all areas, including the lower rails and veneers. If your antique chest’s inside is covered with paper, you’re going to want to take it off. Moreover, paper can hold a bad smell in the chest, so it actually is best to take it off. To do this, use a scrapper and water. Soak the paper in water first, so that the wheat paste that is used as glue dissolves. Than use the scrapper to scrap off the paper. Make sure you don’t put water in the chest, as it will cause serious damage. If your chest still has a bad smell, open it and expose it to the Sun, as sunlight does wonders with bad smell bacteria.

2. Repairing—this phase includes two basic steps:

● Sanding — use quality sandpaper to sand the inside wood after you've cleaned the paper. Next, if you want, you can line it up with fabric. Sand the outside wood also, and make sure you start smoothly, working your way to a sharper sanding.

● Clean the metal — use a wire brush attachment on a power drill to clean all rust on the metal parts. Also you can use a hand brush with a steel wool for more detailed cleaning of the metal parts. Wet sanding the metals is also advisable.

3. Finishing — give your antique chest a new colour! To start painting it, mask off the wood first. Then put a layer of quality primer, paint and clear coat. Here is one recommendation: put one coat of primer and leave it for 48 hours to dry. Than put another layer of black coat and then 30 minutes after, put another coat. Leave this in a warm place for 72 hours, then apply two layers of coat and leave for another 48 hours before handling. A tip: do not shorten drying time, but extend it if possible. Paint doesn’t dry as easily.

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