Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Our Whatnot Renovation

To begin with our £15 what not was in poor state covered in chips and scuffs with filthy glass and an interiour mirrored cabinet that was severly stained.

Step one was to clean it up, dusting, glass washed etc, then it was desided that we would remove the top flap door to open the piece up and make it more into a corner shelf (whatnot) then a closed in cabinet. The door was removed by unscrewing the hinges and the slide brackets. The mirrored panels were not repairable so those were then removed by also removing small screws and a thin wooden boarder. Once the mirrors had gone nice clean wood was opened up from beneath.

Further discusion led us to remove the other door taking out the original glass centre shelf and then using this as a template to cut a new MDF one to replace it.

We used car body filler to cover over the chips and cracks, this was set off by mixing it with a tiny bit of hardner. Once this was dry the next morning we sanded the filler to a smooth finish. Now we had to consider how to paint or finish the cabinet. We tried emulsion paint first but this failed as it was hard to blend the colour into the shiny veneer surface. We washed the paint off and decided that whatever we do the shiny surface had to go. Using a black and decker mouse sander we sanded down the surfaces of the whatnot, fully getting rid of the veneer. The filler was sanded away as much as possible. At this point we had a dilema. We really wanted to keep as much of the original wood graining as possible. We were daunted by the idea of stripping it completely and painting it from scratch using our little experience of wood painting effects. I also believed that as our finished set is for television and not stage the furiture would more likely be natural and not painted with emulsion (unless very skilled in this area of surface replication). This remained our plan B if our other experiments were in vain. Gaining some advice from someone who has worked with a lot of wooden furniture we decided that wood staining was worth a try. But we were advised not to use a wood stainer as it was more watery and would probably not work so well on the veneer, but instead use a wood varnish with a wood dye blended in. In Wickes we purchaced a can of this varnish in a dark oak tone as the mahogony was too red. The varnish was much thicker to apply and it covered and clung to the surface well. It tinted the areas of filler left and blended it well to the original whatnot colour. Yet it still let you see the mahogany streaks from the veneer through the gloss. The overal glossy finish made the piece look healthy and well care for, it is a beautiful rich colour and certainly looks much better than when we bought it. In total two layers of varnish were applied. The middle MDF shelf I painted with emulsion paints in burnt umber and burnt sienna to achieve the diagonal streaks of mahogony as on the other shelves. Once dried it also had a layer of the wood varnish and was placed in the cabinet. It is fantastic to know the effects of using the varnish are so successful as it avoided us having to completely paint the piece and possibly ruining it, it looks very authentic in its tones and use of the original wood graining. ( photos below of the final piece, middle shelf is the false one of MDF)

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