Add a touch of old-world beauty to a bedroom or family room with the addition of an antique chest. Due to their age and extensive wear and tear, some antique chests are in poor condition, too rust-covered and odd-smelling to be of any use in the home. Give your antique chest a makeover in just a few simple steps.
Moisten and Remove Interior Paper
First, consult an expert to ensure that your antique chest is not particularly rare or valuable. After determining that restoring the antique storage chest is a good move, check the inside for any paper lining. If present, use a spray bottle to spritz water onto the old paper or dab it with a wet sponge to moisten. Take care with this step, since wetting the wood may make it warp and can cause mould growth. With a scraper, such as a putty knife, rip all the old, dampened paper out of the chest. Leave the chest open in a well-ventilated area and let it dry thoroughly.
Sand the Interior
Check the chest's interior for any protruding nails or rough areas that could yield splinters. After identifying potential hazards, sand the insides of the antique chest, first with 150-grit sandpaper, then with 100-grit sandpaper to create a smooth surface.
Remove and Polish the Hardware
Take off the end caps, handles, and other hardware from the antique chest. Extricate the nails carefully to leave the wood intact. Next, affix a wire brush attachment to a power drill and use that tool to brush the metal. Alternatively, use steel wool and a hand brush to finish the job. This brushing process eliminates rust and polishes up the pieces to make them shine like new.
Wash and Air Out
Wash the entire exterior of the chest with water and gentle soap. Remember not to immerse the chest in water or squeeze large amounts of soapy water over its surface, since this could cause warping. Instead, use a damp sponge to clean the chest, eliminating dirt build-up and stains. With small cracks, employ an old toothbrush to loosen grime and unwanted particles. Let the chest dry. After it has dried, smell the interior. If you notice any odours, place the chest outdoors, wide open, on a sunny day. The sunlight and fresh air helps to eliminate bacteria and odour sources.
Sand and Refinish
Sand the outside of the chest, beginning with 150-grit sandpaper and going up to 220-grit sandpaper. Stain and finish the wood to achieve a lovely, glossy look. Replace the old leather handles with new ones, and put the freshly polished hardware back on using clench nails.