Category Archives: Antiques

Made with Love: Rejuvenating My Kids’ Wood Wagon with My Fix It Up Life

Guest Bloggers Mark and Theresa of MyFixItUpLife are back with a fun project sure to pull on your heart strings. Follow along as the couples embrace the spirit of “Find. Finish. Love.” to revive an old wood wagon as a heart-felt gift for their kids. 

This wagon may not be the greatest woodworking project you’ll ever behold, but it’s made with love for my kids. Thing is, we never used it.MyFixitUpLife_Wagon_Made-With-LOve_Minwax1630-1-800x600

As with many intentions in life, we got busy. And it got stuffed in a forgotten corner; piled on with more forgotten stuff. Forgotten.

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But this wagon has a story. It’s dear to us. It’s wrapped up in how Theresa and I met and our first project together. Time to take life by the handle again and to start making new memories.

The wagon is made with wood that carpenters use to build shelter—spruce and fir mostly. You can get it anywhere and it’s usually a little, let’s say, lived in. It has all the dings and scrapes you’d expect a workmanlike hunk of wood to have.

What I enjoy about working with these kinds of woods is that their beauty is brought out by what you put into working and shaping and loving them.

And, this wagon looks slightly like a monster truck because I made it originally for Jack’s older sister when I lived closer to the beach. Its first lot in life was to be a beach wagon.

But we got busy.

And life happened.

Time to make some changes. Hello past, here comes tomorrow.

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Made with love, to us, sometimes means going back to the beginning. The spruce boards I made the original out of needed some serious sanding. Not a ton of fun, but we used three grits of paper (60, 100, 150) t0 bring the spruce boards back to vibrance. Also, sanding opens the grain of the wood, ideal for stain penetration.

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Before applying our coatings, we took extra care to get the dust off the wood. Compressed air is great for this. If you don’t have a compressor, using an old paint brush is great too. Follow up with some spray detergent and a damp rag (like you’d clean your kitchen counter).

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The neglected spruce deck boards on the wagon gulped in the Minwax® Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner, which we like to use as a base coat so the stain soaks in as evenly as possible.

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Since the wagon’s rails were coming apart, I re-made them from a Douglas fir 4×4, carpenter-grade. It has the tightest, straightest grain of the construction wood available at the home center.

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I love this gray, Minwax® Wood Finish™ in “Classic Gray. When staining individual parts like this it pays to have a plan, because you have to stain all six sides at once. For these parts, we stained the front, the edges, then stood them up on the thin side and covered the remaining surfaces. It’s not perfect, but it works. Always check for streaks and runs (inevitable because: Gravity). Just strike them off with the brush.

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Since gravity  is always on, I use it to my advantage. Before using a stain—and this may not be in the Minwax® rule book—I tip cans upside for a few minutes before using them. To my mind, this lets the stain move uniformly through the can without me stirring it with a stick for longer than necessary. I still stir it with a stick. No shaking.

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Small parts can be frustrating to sand. When possible I use an inexpensive—and versatile; you can use a stationary sander for all kinds of stuff—bench-top sander.

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Applying this dark stain (it’s Minwax® Wood Finish™ in “Ebony”) was like applying a liquid mirror. And while we could have gone with the more sort of obvious colors of childhood here, we wanted a look that was a little more furniture than toy.

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Using this stain required me to slow down and go to a quiet place. There’s a balance between how quickly you can apply it and how quickly the wood drinks it in off the brush’s ferrules (bristles). There’s something just a little perfect about the balance.

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The last coat is one of my favorite things for outdoor protection. Even though this wagon will spend most of its life indoors, it’ll see beach sand or rain or who knows what from time to time, so I locked in the color and locked out the weather with Minwax® Helmsman® Spar Urethane.

Bring it Mother Nature.

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It pays to have a plan. Since I wanted to brush the urethane on the sides, I needed a place for them to dry where they’d barely contact anything so I made a little hanger. Is this perfect? No. But neither is life.

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Love is said to be perfect though. And that—we hope—is what both kids feel when they see, use and roll around with this project from my heart.

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From now through September 30th, take advantage of our Fall Home Celebration rebate and save up to $15 on select Minwax® products that make and keep your floors beautiful. These specially formulated products enhance the natural beauty of your floors and can help protect them so they look great for years to come.

Be sure to check out Minwax’s new “Made With Love. Finished With Minwax.” campaign currently going on. The theme is ‘Find. Finish. Love.,’ celebrating the thrill of finding real wood pieces – sometimes in the least expected places – and the joy of making them into something we love.

MyFixitUpLife shares design inspiration, DIY tips, and behind-the-scenes interviews MyFixitUpLife’s husband-and-wife duo, Mark & Theresa, design, renovate, and share how-to tips to make your projects easier and more fun.

An Antique Mirror Restoration Made Simple

1. Before

While it may not look so bad from a distance, this 1950s maple mirror had originally been finished with lacquer, a popular finish for mid-century furniture. Unfortunately, this early version of lacquer tended to develop tiny cracks and blemishes over time. Fortunately for us, they don’t have to be stripped for the mirror to be saved and reused.

2. Scuff

I started by scuffing the old lacquer lightly with a synthetic pad, then wiping off the dust.

3. Lacquer

I then simply added a fresh coat of Minwax® Clear Aerosol Lacquer, which adheres best to the old lacquer.

4. Wire

Quick Tip: Never trust old wire or hooks on a heavy mirror or work of art. Always be sure to screw in a new hook and use heavy-duty braided wire.

5. HeroBefore I could get it hung on the wall, Jasper decided to take a quick peek to see how he was looking that day. Both he and the mirror look pretty good!

Be sure to check out Minwax’s new “Made With Love. Finished With Minwax.” campaign currently going on. The theme is ‘Find. Finish. Love.,’ celebrating the thrill of finding real wood pieces – sometimes in the least expected places – and the joy of making them into something we love.

Until next time,

Thanks for stopping by!

Bruce

Restore a Foggy or Cloudy Skylight

Opening

For years, the skylight in our bedroom has had a permanent foggy appearance. But aside from looking unsightly, there was no reason to undergo the expense of a new one. So when I spotted this large stained glass window in an antique shop, I got an idea.

NotchesThe window’s frame was falling apart, so I removed it and made a simple oak lap-joint frame, cutting the notches using a hand saw and a chisel before gluing them together.

Test While the glue dried, I applied three different Minwax® Wood Finish™ stains in different colors– Natural, Golden Pecan, and Golden Oak to a piece of scrap oak, then held it up against the skylight to see which would be the best match.

Can As it turns out, the Minwax “Golden Pecan” Wood Finish came very close.

Stain I applied my stain, let it soak in for a few minutes, then wiped off the excess stain before letting it dry.

Plugs Afterwards I drilled a shallow half-inch hole in each lap-joint for the screws that would secure the stain glass window to two strips of wood I installed inside the skylight. The wood buttons hide the screw heads and give the frame a bit of decoration.

Lacquer Frames like this one are ideal projects for Minwax® Clear Aerosol Lacquer. Just a couple of thin coats provide all the protection the oak will need, and the lacquer dries in just a matter of minutes.

HeroWhile the antique stained glass window and my new frame didn’t fill the entire skylight, it certainly made it look much better, giving it some vintage character and a little extra color.

Until next time,

Thanks for stopping by!

Bruce

A Vintage Hatbox Revived As the Perfect Gift

April is Minwax National Woodworking Month®! To celebrate, Minwax® expert Bruce Johnson has put together some of his favorite tips & tricks for using Minwax® products. Don’t forget to download the Minwax National Woodworking Month® mail-in rebate form, you could save up to $17 on select Minwax® products. 

BeforeFor several years now, Leigh Ann has had this antique Victorian hatbox, with a drawer for gloves, that had been taken from a tall dresser her grandmother once owned. With Leigh Ann’s birthday fast approaching, I decided I could find a new use for it.

Wood Filler The top had a few unsightly nail holes, so I squeezed in some Minwax® Stainable Wood Filler, let it dry, and sanded each one smooth with the wood.

Stain side The original color of the oak hatbox was still attractive, but badly worn, so after a light sanding I applied a fresh coat of Minwax® Wood Finish™ in “English Chestnut” to even out the color.

Base stain I used the same color to stain a new oak base I plan to set it on when it is complete.

Spray Tray At our craft supply store, I picked up four unfinished pine trays and sprayed each one with two coats of Minwax® Clear Aerosol Lacquer. After the lacquer had dried, I cut a piece of felt to line the bottom of each one, as well as the bottom of the glove drawer. By this time, the English Chestnut stain had dried, so I protected all the wood with three light coats of Minwax® Clear Aerosol Lacquer.

ClosedI then installed two plywood shelves inside the box where a Victorian gentleman would have stored his tall hat. Next, I screwed the hatbox to the new oak base, rehung the door and slipped the drawer back into place.

OpenNow instead of a Victorian hatbox she never quite could decide what to do with, Leigh Ann has a new place to store and display her jewelry, as well as a daily memory of her grandmother.

Until next time,

Thanks for stopping by!

Bruce