Several weeks ago I came across a fantastic mid century Lane cedar chest at my local Salvation Army and I had to have it. The finish was a bit beat up, but I loved the overall look. It reminded me of the Heywood Wakefield bedroom set I inherited from my grandmother.
So I took it home to refinish it. Never mind that I have never so much as painted a table or chair.
A little research told me that this chest was manufactured in 1958 and that Lane called this particular finish “blonde mahogany.” Other than that I couldn’t find any information on exactly how I should go about restoring it. I did notice that areas of the chest seemed to have water damage, and that the finish was bubbled in some places.
My first step was to carefully sand a small area. Luckily my dad (an expert woodworker) was there to tell me the chest was covered in a thin mahogany veneer.
He suggested I sand it with 220 grain paper, then follow up with a gentle stripper. The veneer is very thin, and very easy to sand through, so I carefully took off the top layer of lacquer with the sandpaper. I then followed up with Klean Strip After Wash and rubbed the whole chest down with fine grain steel wool. This was a long process, but it was worth being careful to preserve the veneer. I used a second coat of after wash and an old cloth diaper (I love cloth diapers for rags!) to strip off the remaining finish. Finally, I cleaned the wood with mineral oil. I think it went pretty well for my first time stripping furniture, but seasoned crafters, tell me, what would you have done differently?
Now comes the fun part- creating a new look for this classic piece! The problem is, I can’t decide what to do with it. I’d love to try two tones of stain (like this beautiful piece I found for sale on etsy) but I’m afraid my sanding is not perfect, and the uneven surface may result in a splotchy looking stain. Paint might make it more colorful and unique, but I don’t want the chest to lose its midcentury charm.
I would love to hear your ideas on how I can make this Lane chest beautiful and unique!