20. March 2022 · Comments Off on Playing Around With Furniture Restoration · Categories: Domestic

My daughter will insist that I have been watching too many restoration videos on Toob of Yew, but honestly, it’s fascinating to me, watching rusty and ruined bits of this or that being brought back to life. I also have developed a serious case of power tool envy, after seeing what could be done with a sandblasting unit, when it comes to destroying rust. Wee Jamie watches these with me – I hope that the concept of repair and reuse sticks with him, also the fun of using power tools.

Anyway, there is in my kitchen a rolling kitchen island; a solid piece constructed of oil-finished rock maple with a butcher-block top. I bought it through the Williams-Sonoma catalogue sometime around 1986, mostly because my kitchen in Spain was dinky, and there was no place to put the microwave oven, having fallen for that bit of cooking technology when on leave visiting my parents, who had a lovely large one. It’s in my mind that it came at least partially assembled; and it must have been a bit pricy because Williams-Sonoma. For about a decade I dedicated my yearly income tax return towards solid pieces of furniture, and that unit might have been the pick of that year. Anyway, it was a sturdy piece, with double doors on each long side, a small drawer just below the butcherblock top and movable narrow shelves on the short sides. I kept spices on the narrow side shelves, and an array of French porcelain cooking dishes inside, and the rolling island followed us from Spain to Utah and then finally to Texas, where my kitchen is still small and woefully short of counter space.

Alas, although the rock maple parts of the cart have endured rather nicely, certain of the panels which were of thin maple veneer over composition – have not aged at all well. For a good few years we had a cat who was addicted to peeing on things, and for totally ruining household items, noting quite beats the power and stench of male cat urine. So it came to pass that we were both tired of looking at the ruined finish, not to mention the way that the bottom shelves and side panels were warping out of shape … and yesterday in a fit of exasperation and ambition, I emptied out the contents into boxes, and disassembled the cart.

“I was bored,” I said to my daughter when she got home with Wee Jamie, “And I thought I’d take the furniture apart.” (It will be at least three weeks before Roman the Neighborhood Handy Guy can come and re-do the back fence, and I was all afire to get SOMETHING done!)

For all of today, we used the palm sander by turns, sanding off all the stains on the various pieces, and using every bit of Liquid Wrench and WD-40 on hand to pry out wheels, which had rusted practically solid due to regular applications of cat pee. A trip to Lowe’s for some small birchwood plywood panels, some passes with the circular saw, and … only exhaustion plus an uncomfortable tingling in the hands kept us from doing any more work on it today.

Tomorrow, I’ll finish putting it back together, paint the base white and finish the butcherblock top with linseed oil – did I mention that I have a new paint sprayer? New rollers and a set of metal knobs are to be delivered tomorrow. When I eventually redo the kitchen, it will be all be in white-painted cabinets, but for now, the revamped cart will do.

Pictures to follow. The “Before” pics were too ghastly to unleash on an unwary public.

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