Enhancing a Sideboard, while maintaining it's original charm

Enhancing a Sideboard, while maintaining it's original charm



This sideboard simply had to go home with me. There was no question about it. From its graceful columns, it’s hand carved faces, to its amazing tiger oak, all of it was simply begging to be mine. So much so, that I neglected to look closely at the piece. I didn’t really pull out the drawers to take a peek inside, check the back or top for damage, or open the bottom doors to see just what I was getting into. That was up until I pulled him into the building to clean him up. Needless to say, my excitement from the auction got the best of me, and now reality was really setting in HARD!



Now let me say this piece could have been in far worse shape considering it was from the mid to late 1800s. Honestly, it was lucky for me it was still in existence. However, the beautiful veneer along the top was peeling, cracked, and missing in large chunks, as was the veneer around the columns. The inside of the base was so rough, I am guessing from what appeared to be water damage of sorts. The top was warped, warn, and far past the point of a little cleaning, oh and it was missing one of the beautiful handles. Then there was the drawer…the drawer that was nothing but pure evil in its existence, the drawer that was lined in some sort of crazy indestructible velvet like material. This stuff literally ate up most of my time, and caused me to walk away on more than one occasion.

I started on this piece just as I would any other piece, with a good thorough cleaning, both inside and out. This step alone took a few good hours, especially when cleaning the inside of the cabinet. At this point I had already decided I was maintaining much of the original look, so I didn’t want to clean with anything too harsh, so cleaning vinegar, water, and a bit of elbow grease was what I went with.

From this point, I began dismantling the piece. I removed the top piece from the chest, all the hardware, and pulled the doors, making sure I placed all of the small pieces into a marked baggie, and tucked them away for later. Then onto sanding. I focused most of my sanding on the top of the chest, taking it all the way down to bare wood with my orbital sander and medium grit sandpaper, making sure to follow the grain of the wood. When using the sander, you want to make sure you are not applying too much pressure as it will quite literally eat into the wood leaving bumps and marks along the way. I let the sander do all the work, moving it back and forth along the piece. On the edges, or really tough areas, I will tilt the sander slightly to use the very edge to really get into those areas.

Once the top was sanded, I had to decide what exactly to do with the veneer. Veneer is difficult for me to work with, especially since I am still learning, and making mistakes along the way. I knew I needed to more than likely completely remove the veneer along the top edge, but I wasn’t sure exactly what to do with the pieces from the columns as most of it was still in tact.

To remove the veneer along the top I used a small scraper, as most of the veneer was already loose. In the few areas that were really attached well, I used my sander to sand them away, as they weren’t really large enough pieces to try and soak the veneer off. For the columns, I use wood filler to level out the small sections of missing veneer, allowed it to dry for 24 hours, and then hit the areas with fine grit sandpaper on a small detail/corner sander to level them out. I will say however, that I have heard many use bondo instead of wood filler with great success, so I might try that on my next project, as I wasn’t completely happy with the results of the wood filler.

Once the veneer was removed, and the missing areas filled, I primered the pieces I intended to paint with Wise Owl Paint’s White Primer, allowing a minimum of 12 hours dry time between coats, and I completed two coats. I did this to ensure there was no bleed through from the tannins in the wood, especially in the sanded areas. It is fortunate I did so, as I immediately had bleed through with the first coat of primer. Thankfully Wise Owl Primer has some serious stain blocking power! As a side note make sure if you have any cracks in the wood, you really focus here as cracks are easy to miss, and a common culprit for bleed through.

After waiting a full 12 hours for the primer to do its thing, I began to paint. I chose to use Wise Owl Chalk Synthesis Paint in Black and Bloodmoon (retired). I wanted something that complimented the red stain of the existing piece without taking away from it, and these colors blended seamlessly with the existing wood. With my Cling-On! S50, I focused the Wise Owl Chalk Synthesis Paint in Black on the top of the chest, the columns, and along the edge of the top piece. For the inside of the drawers, and inside the bottom of the cabinet I switched between my Cling-On! F40, R12, and P16. The longer handles allowed me to reach all of the nooks and crannies inside of the cabinet, without having to completely crawl inside, while the angle feature of the P16 helped me to fully cover the inside corners.

Because the inside of the drawers and the base were a little rougher than the outside, I did apply three coats of paint to make sure I had full coverage. In addition to this, when applying varnish, I mixed a small amount of the paint color into the varnish to help for an even look, especially on the rougher spots. The varnish I used on this piece was the Wise Owl Varnish in Satin, however only the top and inside of the chest were finished in varnish. The remaining painted areas, including inside of the drawers were finished with Wise Owl Furniture Salve in Tobacco Flower.

For the finishing touch, I went over all of the unpainted wood in Wise Owl Hemp Seed Oil to help feed the wood, as it was terribly dry. This product also helps to provide a water-resistant barrier, that aids in protecting the wood from the inside out, and oh does it look amazing on this beautiful tiger pattern.


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