Monday, September 15, 2014

The Great Bedframe Revolution (Part I)


In my upstairs Orange County apartment you may remember that I had to cover a piece of foam core in fabric and stick-um it to the wall. It worked perfectly. However, now in my very own great big house I found myself in the market for some real headboards and bed frames.

I needed a queen sized frame for the mattress in the guest room and wanted a double sized frame for my own bedroom. Of course, in the Craigslist antique market, double beds are far easier to come by. I scored an antique wooden frame at a garage sale for $10 in a neighboring town. It was in pretty rough shape when I brought it home, and my initial plan was to paint it. But, the wood was just too beautiful to cover up with paint. Unfortunately, I was not looking forward to stripping and refinishing the whole thing. As you can see, it needed it. Can you tell where someone's head rubbed up against the headboard 40 years? I could.

I found this article from familyhandyman.com that explained how to clean up old wood with gel stain. So, I started with his method. Against my better judgment, I scrubbed the whole thing down with soap and water. My dad would have shot me for this (as he has always told me wood doesn't like to get wet). My dad is right. The water did get the piece nice and clean, but also made the finish a little cloudy, and darkened the gashes. I tried to give it a little love with Old English, but the damage was done. Now with a solid distrust of this guy, and having read a few other articles that didn't exactly sing the praises of the gel finish, I found this article from Utah State talking about alternative strategies for dealing with scratched finish.

I started by wiping the piece down with mineral spirits to get it good and clean. I also had to scrape off some old christmas tape, nail polish, and paint speckles from many years of hard life. But, goo-gone and a razor blade went a long way.

Then, I l took a foam brush and wetted it in a tupperware of lacquer thinner, and essentially liquified the lacquer to try to even out the finish. This allowed the old, original finish to smooth out and fill in the scratches and wear in the finish. After 4 iterations of this process, the finish was much smoother and more shiny than it had been. But, the finish was still thin in some spots. So, I gave it a few coats of spray on clean lacquer, and just before the last coat sanded it lightly with ultra find (440 grit) sandpaper.
I'll admit, putting a modern box spring and mattress on a very old bedframe has given me a serious princess and the pea effect. But overall I'm pretty delighted with the new life to this once dilapidated bedframe.

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