A Tale of Two Trunks

scarlett2001April 2, 2008

Last Sat. I was lucky enough to get two free old trunks, both wooden, one flat top, the other domed top.I want to refurbish them but not to the point where they would lose their authenticity (no paint, for example).The original paper lining is inside, but in shreds.

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Oh wow, you were lucky! I've re-done some to look original. I had a domed one that was covered in pressed tin, I used silver model car paint on it ( I suppose you could mask it off and spray it) Then I used black paint thinned in water and washed it over it, it really made the flowers show nicely,like pictures of ones you see that are original) I went over the buckles and things with gold washed over with black,and silver where it had to be silver, and black model car paint where it was supposed to be black. The wood I left alone, but I did use sealer on it to protect what I painted and to stop the rust. I left the inside alone,too.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2008 at 5:57AM
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My Mom redid an old domed topped trunk which was her mother's when she came to America on the boat!!!! It was wood with the metal strips and it really turned out nice. She didn't repaint or add anything new to it. She washed off any dust/grime and let it dry and then used shellac on it to give it some luster. It also helped preserve the wood. Inside she took out the old paper and relined it with a pretty patterned wallpaper. Mother stored blankets in it. I had it for awhile and ended up giving it to one of my sisters. When I see it in her house now, I'm envious of it and wish I hadn't given it away.

The ones you found - if you don't want to shellac it, you could use a wood preserver/sealer on it, such as for an outside deck. Or even use Mrs. Murphy's Soap Oil on them to clean them up. I'm sure they will soak that oil right in. There are some folks on the Garden Junk forum who will use them as planters outside. Just fill with potting soil and plant away. They really look nice with tall flowers and then some cascading over the sides of it. If you don't want to put them outside, you could do the same inside by laying a wooden board or something over the opening and then use potted plants. Short of covering the opening up, place large(r) terra cotta pots upside down in the truck and put the plants on them or use footstools, something that will give you the height needed to put the plants to the top. Hope this helps and hope you'll post pics of the trunks when your projects are completed.


    Bookmark   April 4, 2008 at 5:37PM
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How thick is the wood on the trunks, are they still smooth? I refinished a pie-safe and used wax as a sealant and finish. Took lots of rubbing, but was certainly worth the muscle! That might be a solution. It brings the natural color of the wood out, with natural aging. Or check out the Formby finishes--I guess they are still made. Lemon oil is a really nice natural finish too.

I bought a modern domed trunk at auction. The lid had split and broke from the support. My husband repaired the dome and he put a thin sheet of brass sheeting on the dome. It had carved teddy bears and a big heart on the dome, and didn't fit with my electic decor. He added brass tacks around the molding, and we put brass bicycle chain on the dome and side of the trunk to keep it from falling backward and splitting again! everybody loved it, including me. A real "trash to treasure"! And now an heirloom to boot.
Good luck

    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 6:52PM
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I had an 80+ year old white ash table stripped and redone by a local professional. He said never, never use Murphys oil soal on wood - always use Lemon Oil. I think he said the Murphy's will dry out the wood (e.g. - doesn't soap dry out your own skin?). Good luck! I have a steamer trunk (date on the shipping lable is 191_) that I've cleaned w/ lemon oil. I've never replaced the brass lock or the metal end caps (on the corners). the inside is musty but I don't store anything in it so that's fine w/ me.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 10:43AM
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