I usually try to re-purpose with hardly spending any money at all. This first project was a little more involved and costs more than I usually spend but I look at it as learning costs -- which is actually well spent money. I bought this cedar trunk from a neighbor for $25. I also spent about $50 in chemicals to refinish. And another $25 on the hardware. Guessing here - could even be more on the chemicals -- simply trying lots of different methods.
The learning aspect on this project is my efforts to cover up the oak grain. I tried many different techniques so the products needed for each technique added up. But I wanted to learn my favorite on a piece of furniture before I take on something like my kitchen cabinetry. Here is the 'BEFORE'. Wow! Big difference!
Here's the steps:
1 - Remove all hardware. I also removed the top and top frame but I sure could see the pad with some really funky fabric looking pretty good too.
2 - De-gloss the varnish. You can try to use a varnish stripper, but with some of de-glossers on the market today, it is easier just to paint over a de-glossed varnish. (I used Jasco's Liquid Sander Paint Etcher - unfortunately, it may be discontinued).
3 - After following the instructions of your de-glosser, sand the heck out of the project with a 80 grit sandpaper.
4 - Clean. First, dust it off with a soft brush, then vacuum, then wipe any remaining dust with a clean cloth with alcohol on it.
5 - Paint with Zinssor's Cover Stain Primer (comes in a spray can but with a project this size, you would need a lot of cans -- kind of expensive). I used a good quality, soft paint brush. Allow to dry and clean as in step 4.
6 - Sand again with 150 grit sand paper.
7 - Clean again as in step 4.
8 - Keep repeating the Zinssor's Primer, sanding (drop to a 200 grit sand paper), and cleaning until you feel the grain is disappearing.
8.5 - If you have any spots where you feel you just can't make the grain dissappear, scrap into the grain some Dap Drydex spackling using Bondo Spreader tools. There are other good grain filler products but don't use a 2-part epoxy filler -- way too much work and too hard. Dap Drydex is not a very hard filler, but it is easy to use and when you have lots of coats of primer and paint over it, it works great for projects that won't get wet (ie. don't use on kitchen cabinets).
9 - When you fill you are pretty close to covering the grain, you can paint your final coats of color paint, two or three coats. Sand with steel wool between coats, again, use the agressive cleaning techniques in step 4.
10 - After the final coat, lightly buff with steel wool and wipe with a clean cloth.
11 - New hardware and You're Done!