This dresser (this is what we'll call it for now. I have a feeling it is an old 'gentleman's chest, but it has been used as a baby's dresser all it's life as far as I know..) has been in my family for many generations and had as many layers of paint added to it for whatever reason (according to my dear Mother, probably one of the only things holding it together). It was my Grandpa B's (that's Henry Jack Black) when he was a child. I am thinking it was probably acquired when he lived in California. I really had little idea what to expect when I laid eyes on it again. It was used by both of my sisters, painted (lovingly, but painted) in Breckenridge years ago. Since I have two twin girls on the way, it was given to my wife and I to use for them and hopefully pass on to future generations.
Well, when I looked closer, I noticed some places where the paint was chipping (there were more than a few) and was happy to find that it was made from Solid Long Leaf Pine. This is not just any pine, but so sturdy that they used to make ship masts from it. Reason being, there is much more grain per square inch than regular pine, making it stouter and stronger almost as maple, but not quite as hard, just more stable and sturdy. Not to mention the fact that the graining is also very nice.
Well, After many hours of stripping off layers of paint, scraping and scouring, dental scrapers and all, (Many people aren't aware of this, but stripping old latex/colored lacquer/Milk paint involves much more than just painting on some stripper and wiping it off. Even the strongest of industrial rated strippers are not strong enough just to melt off this finish) I was really torn as to what stain I wanted to use on it. I knew I wanted it to be natural and for the wood grain to come through, but wasn't sure how it would look with the carving, so was considering something darker.
here are the door and drawer as they were painted before I started
I normally insist on restoring things back to what would be the natural aged color of the wood as if it had never been touched, so this was what I intended to do, but after applying the color, was still unsure...My wife urged me on, so I kept on in that direction. After staining one door, I applied the white to all of the hand carved areas with a fine tip brush (more painstaking work, but well worth it in the end) and then the whole picture started to come together. I finished out one door and knew this was exactly what we wanted (I had finished the inside drawers prior to this, but once I saw the combination, I knew this was the right thing for it).
With the painting and stain applied...
With clear coating applied
After finishing all of the drawers, I had to repair the upper rail, the hinges and make sure the wallowed out screws were set in place to stay. Finally, I had some brass knobs (the other knobs were yellow pine so I am sure they had been replaced) that were lying around doing nothing, added some machine screws to them since they were missing and they just fit, and just happened to go perfectly with the finish. I hope my Grandfather, god rest his soul, is as proud of it as we are. Maybe it will last another 100 years now. Here are some more of the pictures in it's final home, our little girls' nursery, which is another story altogether.