Saturday, September 22, 2012

Giving New Life to an Old Friend: Refinishing an Old Cradle

When I was a baby, my great uncle made two cradles.  One was for my cousin, Kristina.  The other was for me.  As a child, I used the cradle to play mommy to my baby dolls and stuffed animals.  The original cradle was stained a dark, cherry color and sported a detailed Mickey Mouse face on one end.

When my daughter was born, in 2004, my stepfather wanted to do something special for us.  He took the cradle to a man who was to chemically dip and refinish the cradle.  The cradle was disassembled and dipped in the chemical wash.  To our dismay, the cradle didn't come out the way it was intended to.  because it was made from different types of wood and had been stained for so very long, the stain didn't come completely off.  My stepdad was devastated that he had, in his mind, ruined something special to me.  I admit that, at the time, I was disgusted and didn't want to mess with it.  After a while I forgot about the whole thing.

Recently I have been seeing a lot of tutorials about refinishing furniture.  It got me looking around the house for things to refinish.  Then it hit me....the cradle was still at my mom's house.  I could turn a two of a kind piece into a one of a kind piece.  I had my stepdad bring it over and started planning my project.

This is what the cradle looked like after being chemically dipped and before me doing anything to it.

Here is what I used:

4 cans hotel vanilla valspar spray paint in satin
1 can ebony stain by minwax
2 cans spray poly in satin
a damp cloth
an old, clean rag
3 blocks 80 grit sandpaper
2 blocks 130 grit sandpaper

Here is what I did:

I started out sanding the whole thing down with 80 grit sandpaper.  I did mine just until the surface was smooth and the shiny poly was off.  Because I would be staining the whole project dark and then painting and distressing it, I didn't worry about removing absolutely all of the color of the previous stain.

The first stages of the sanding process

After I sanded the entire cradle down, I wiped it down with a damp rag to remove any dust from sanding.  I grabbed a clean, old rag and got busy staining.  I chose to use a dry rag rather than a brush to do my staining.  I just like the look better.  Tip: use gloves...I didn' hands were still stained three days later.

Beginning to stain

Staining Completed

DH liked it like this...he was mad that I painted it.  :(

I let the stain cure for 24 hours before doing anything else, like the can instructed.  Once the stain cured, I got to work painting.  For this, you want to spray thinly and evenly.  It may take a few coats before the paint job looks smooth.  Again, don't get too wrapped up in perfection.  If you are going to distress your project, like I did, it is ok if it turns out a little uneven.

Ok...if you are following are going to take your 130 grit sandpaper and start roughing up the edges.  Some may rough up easily...others may take some elbow grease.  Either way, this is going to look amazing when we are done.  I kept going until I felt like I had it distressed enough for me.  Some like to just rough up the edges, others like it to look just really weathered.  I like somewhere in the middle, but a little on the less distressed side is good with me.  Once you have it good and roughed up, you are gonna take your satin poly and just lightly spray all over to seal your work and protect it from any inadvertent distress.

Here is my finished product:

I may end up distressing it further and creating something for the end with the cricut, but for now I think this is perfect for my girls to keep their babies in.

Did you complete a distressing project using these steps?  Do you distress a different way?  Let me know about it.

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