Our friend Becky recently found this cedar chest on Craigslist for $40. It is a beautiful piece that has so much potential but she did not like the paint color and floral patterns that came with it.
Although some people have commented that they liked the paint, I had to agree with her…
We talked a little about painting over the bottom and stripping the paint from the top and staining it just like the dresser I recently refinished a few months back. That was the plan, at first. This was my first try at removing paint using a chemical paint remover and restoring a piece back to it’s original surface. It was quite a challenge, but so rewarding! I am sure it adds more value to the cedar chest by removing the paint, and the best part is that Becky is very happy with the results!
Let me start by saying, I am not an expert on removing paint that could possibly contain lead, however I followed all necessary precautions for removing and disposing the paint properly and safely, working outdoors with proper protective equipment. For more information about working on pieces or areas that contain lead based paint, visit the EPA Website.
I started by using a paint remover called Strypeeze. It was quite a process but did remove the paint with a few applications and some patience. Again, I am loading this post with more precaution, but this paint stripper does have instructions on how to carefully apply the product and remove the paint for your own safety. I had to handle this paint remover carefully, protecting my clothing, eyes, and skin…and wearing a respirator in the process…so please follow all instructions included with the product and use caution!
Although the paint stripping process took some time and elbow grease, I have to say once the wood started showing it was beautiful. When I started removing the paint from the top, Becky and I decided it would be best to remove it from the entire piece. The wood was just absolutely gorgeous, why cover it back up?
Once the paint was removed, my Dad brought over his belt sander and saved the day! I had been working on it using the mouse sander, but that just wasn’t enough to do the job. The sander removed what looked to be years of build-up on the wood, and brought out a lighter surface.
After looking at options to use stain and polyurethane or use an oil finish, we decided to go with an oil. I have never refinished a piece using finishing oil before but I have heard that oil is a good choice when it comes to damage that can occur, such as scratches, as you can just rub a small amount of oil onto a cloth and rub it into the scratch to “remove” it. The wood absorbs the oil and doesn’t sit on top of the surface like polyurethane does.
Becky chose to use the WATCO Danish Oil in the Medium Walnut tint. This is a product from Rust-Oleum and it was really the best of both worlds since it’s an oil that also has color added to it. And, it is gorgeous!
I was already pleased with the progress after just one coat, but I saw some of the green paint showing through again. I went back over some of those places using the Dremel Rotary Tool Kit with the small attachments. I was able to remove almost all the paint, but in some deeper places upon closer inspection it is still visible. I had to decide whether I wanted to see very small slivers of paint or gauge the areas to death with the Dremel. I reached a happy-medium and did that in some spots, filling those areas with the oil that I sanded further…and some areas were worth leaving alone.
Honestly, it turned out darker than I expected after the second coat, but I absolutely love it and I think it’s SO much better looking than when it arrived covered in paint!
There are some flaws throughout upon closer inspection, but for my first furniture restoration using this method of completely removing paint and using furniture oil, I think it turned out nice, over all. The WATCO Danish Oil was super easy to apply and still shows the wood grain. Most of all, I hope Becky will be happy with this piece for years to come!
She was certainly happy with it when she came to pick it up and she sent me a photo of it sitting in her bedroom along side her new desk she just built with a wood top and hairpin legs. She also finished the top of her desk with the danish oil in the same color! It looks great and I would HIGHLY recommend this product for wood refinishing. I still have plenty left so I am sure you will see it again on a future furniture project here on my blog!
Disclaimer: Again, I am not a professional, but please use all necessary precautions when working with any chemicals or removing paint. Always follow directions included with the product you are using or refer to the EPA website for safe handling when removing paint.