Here are a few tips about antique trunk refurbishing. These are just a few things that will make your life easier and help make your trunk look that much better. If you have not read our How to Restore an Antique Trunk Guide you may want to start there first before reading this.
Antique trunk refinishing tips & tricks
- When you are removing the paper from the inside of your trunk you may want to use a 75%/25% mix of water (75%) and white vinegar (25%) to help break down the musty smells. Vinegar will also help break down the glue a bit faster than just plain water.
- Pulling out the nails to replace the leather handles can be difficult. If you cannot get the nails to pull out use a pair of snips to cut the bent portion of the nail off from the inside of the trunk. A Dremel Tool with a thin cut off wheel also works very well for this.
- Rust removal can be difficult on some antique trunk refurbishing projects depending on the severity of the rust. Sometime a wire brush will not be enough to get all the rust off. Another good method for rust removal is to use wet sand paper. Sand well then wipe rust away with a rag and repeat until the rust is gone. Prime as soon as possible.
- When painting your trunk remember that drying times are very important. Always read the instructions that are included with the paint.
- I highly recommended Waterlox Original Medium Sheen finish for use on all exposed wood on your antique trunk. I do not recommend any other Waterlox products than the Waterlox Original.
- If you are leaving the inside of your trunk in bare wood you may also use Waterlox Original on the inside. Polyurethane is also another option for the inside of your old trunk.
- You can use Polyurethane on the outside of your trunk buy it will not condition the wood like Waterlox Original will. The wood is very dry and will greatly benefit from the Tung Oil in the Waterlox Original.
- The quality of the paint job will depend on how clean and rust free you can get your old trunk. Prep work is what makes a good paint job.
- Stripping paint from old antique trunks can be a messy difficult job especially when working in very hot weather because the stripper evaporates at a very high rate. This can be mitigated by applying the stripper and then laying sheets of wax paper on top of the stripper that you applied to the trunk. This “seals in” the stripper in order to keep it from evaporating.
- Do not use any type of wire brush on the wood. It can leave black streaks at best and rip away the wood at worst.
- Make sure to clean and paint the bottom of your trunk. Often people ignore this side when refurbishing antique trunks and end up with rust stains on their carpet.
Antique trunk refurbishing can and will most likely will be a time consuming project but also be very rewarding. The best tip I can give you is to take your time and do everything right the first time.