Sunday, April 22, 2018

Old is new again

I had another wood-working project in the pipeline, but it's more a restoration project, than one, built from scratch. It's a piece of furniture, which has become a family heirloom. First purchased for my sister and I to share - when she moved out, it temporarily became mine. That is, until my younger brother was born. And so it has been juggled around the siblings, to cater for the different clothes, we constantly grew out of.

My mother kept it, after all her kids moved out. Generously, it came into my possession again, when our daughter was born. You can do that with old furniture though. It takes a lot of beating! Nevertheless, my cabinet was destined to meet it's match, with a pair of cockatiel parrots. Their cage took up residence, on top of the cabinet, because it still resided in my daughter's room.

I swear...I didn't do it

Being the generous owner she is, they were allowed outside their cage, after school. Parrot beaks are designed to gnaw on wood and seeds with hard shells. Given the cage took up all the space on the cabinet, we figured they wouldn't be able to get at it. Not so! Clever, nimble, birds, found a way.

Not entirely me

They also managed to peel off a chink of wood, caused from normal, wear and tear. Not satisfied, they proceeded to enlarge it! On many an afternoon stroll, on the carpet, they gradually chipped away at the wooden scar. Of course, I was oblivious - I'm sure my daughter had an idea though *wink*.

Definitely NOT me!

Then there were...the droppings! When let out, the birds would perch on top of their cage. Naturally, the cabinet caught the brunt of it. Enough was enough. Time to rescue our family heirloom. So we organised an early birthday present for our daughter, and purchased a large cage on wheels. We moved the cabinet of drawers, out, and the birdcage, could take it's place in her room.

Okay...that was me

Our poor, abused, family heirloom, had no permanent home. So it resided in the middle of a small hallway, between some bedrooms, and a bathroom. Thankfully, I had a plan though! It's prospects would turn around, soon.

Guilty too

See all this stuff, hidden behind the cabinet? They were leftovers, from another house re-shuffle. My fabric stash for sewing, and some of my husband's hat collection, were evicted from various places, because I needed the furniture for other tasks. You know how it goes!

So the fabric stash was destined to love the new cabinet, and the new cabinet was destined for that naked wall. It just needed a bit of fixing, is all.


I'm sure this is jut normal wear and tear, but it's possible the cockatiels helped it along. If I was going to repaint the cabinet, I would have to patch-up, a lot of holes.

Who's responsible?

Oh, this was definitely us kids!! Someone threw a hissy-fit. I can't remember who it was, or what it was over - but the poor cabinet wore the brunt of it. The sides were made of ply, (or thin, silky oak, my mum believes) which gave way. All these years (at least 15, it's been in my possession) I've been meaning to fix it.

So eventually, the day came, I would...


Wood filler. Fantastic stuff! Cheap (in the powdered form) and great at hiding a multiple sins. You'd never know by the outside of the cabinet, what took place. The inside, however, kept the truth immortalised...

The wolverine was here

It never did affect the drawers opening and closing, so there it can stay. I like a bit of history, in wooden furniture. There were many things I chose to keep, simply because I didn't want a new piece of furniture. I wanted the story to be immortalised, forever.

On the other hand, there were just some things, which had to go!

A relief to remove

Green florals from the 80's, I don't mind. It's the fact it was contact, and would catch dust in the corners, it didn't quite reach. I wanted a less permanent option. Something I could remove for cleaning, and allow the wood to breath.

 Keeping the green theme

Unfortunately, I couldn't find paper drawer liners - my first option. I did come across some tablecloth vinyl instead. Removable and wipeable. I quite liked the pattern, too. It would suit the final finish, I was hoping to achieve.

Almost naked, drawers

The main body of the cabinet would be painted, because it needed a lot of wood filler. But the drawers, would be roughly stripped, and not painted. Since my mum told me the drawers were made of silky-oak, many years ago, I've always wondered what silky-oak, looked like.

Well, now I have revealed the wonderful wood, and even kept some of the blue paint, and white undercoat too. I couldn't do away with all those memories. Especially since my mum's original paint job, has withstood 3 of her children, 1 grandchild (to date) and 2 parrots!

Looks weird in this position

This is the cabinet, with most of it's blue paint removed. Upside down, too, because it was going to be easier to paint that way. Before I covered it over, I wanted a picture of all that lovely, silky-oak, wood.

Before (matt) and after (shiny)

I am coming to the end of this story soon, but first, the area I was going to leave exposed, included the cabinet top. I could have sanded it smooth, but why? 

At some point I'll get some furniture wax, but chose to treat it with a mixture of ingredients I had at home. Apple cider vinegar, mixed with raw linseed oil, lemon and eucalyptus oil. It smelled divine, and the wood felt so silky to touch, afterwards - even without sanding.

 A sneak-peek

Afterwards, I was reminded of the smell of wooden furniture in my Nan's house. It was like having a felled tree in your home. I never knew what I was smelling, back then. Now I do, because we work with a lot of trees in our backyard. Felled wood is raw, refreshing and I'm surprised after all these years, it still retains some of that original scent of silky-oak.

Loving it's new home

My finished set of drawers are not perfect, but they were never intended to be. I wanted to fix some damage, put hard-wearing paint on the main body, and let a bit of history show through. I even kept the back, original (see pic with junk behind cabinet). No stripping, sanding or painting the entire back section. Just to maintain that original, blue and white prosperity - telling of childrens' clothes, unfortunate hissy-fits and (in the scheme of things) sharing based on need.

A set of blue drawers, gets a new lease on life. But I know...I still haven't found a new home for all those hats! Another time.


  1. What a lovely story, Chris. That set of drawers could tell some tales. LOL! It looks great and I am so pleased the birds won't damage it any more. They can be so very destructive. Good luck with finding somewhere for the hats :-)

    1. Thanks Chel. Yes, I'm glad I saved it from the birds too. I didn't realise how much they were doing to it, until I went in to check on them, one day. I was surprised how tenacious they were at whittling wood, lol.

  2. I love that you've left some of the original to show through your reno of your drawers, Chris. I love old furniture too and it's because of the stories that often come with it. Perhaps, a hat stand for the hats?? Meg:)

    1. I'd love a hat stand, Meg. Problem is, where to put it? All my wall space (everywhere) is already taken up, lol. I'm thinking hat hooks on the wall, instead. But that plan could change too. ;)

  3. Great job, it looks good, I love the feel of wood, so I like you kept the top and drawer fronts natural.

    1. Raw wood feels amazing, doesn't it! I can't explain why, but it's like nothing else you can touch. The only comparable description, is like touching solid silk. Glad you have an appreciation for it too. :)

  4. Replies
    1. Thanks Emma. :) After so many years, it needed a good spruce.


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