August 7, 2013

refinishing the bench

When will I learn?! That's rhetorical by the way, as I think I am beyond help.

Ever since I wrote about the glory that is unpainted wood furniture (here), I've had a hankering to add some, somewhere. And since I've got extra furniture three rows deep in the basement, I figured buying something wasn't the way to go.


Luckily I've been eyeing my church pew. I've been thinking of changing the red for some time, as I talked about here, so why not go with the color it was originally meant to be anyway.

In theory anyway.

Quick history on the pew, it came from the small country chapel that my great-great-grandfather founded long long ago. My mom acquired it back in the early 80's when they renovated the chapel and at that time it was painted brown. Why in the world would someone paint wood furniture brown? That's exactly what I was thinking too! Anyway, she promptly painted it red and it has been that way ever since. The point being no one that I know knew what type of wood this was or how it would look.

I love to solve a good mystery so I tested a little spot with my Citristrip just to see what I was getting into. If it looked bad I could paint that spot again or worse yet just put a pillow over it.


What a tease. It was worse than Ryan Seacrest before a commercial break. It was all, oh, I'm bubbling right away, I'll come up with no problem. And the first layer did.

That's right, I said first layer. But it was the layer, upon layer, upon layer of brown...paint/natural stain/mystery McGuyver substance that wouldn't. go. away.

I don't really have any pictures of this phase as its hard to take a picture while banging you head but basically each day started with 'I'm sure this will be the last layer of brown goop, I can do this' and ended with 'Who in lucifer's reach made this #%$^!!!'.

This went on for a week.

It was the worst as it looked as if there wasn't any paint there but when I scraped off the Cirtristrip there was more and more dark brown goo. I never did find out what it was but I got as much off as I could.


I used my last bit of energy to sand and then I stopped. The bench and I needed some time apart.

Have you ever underestimated a DIY project? Have you wanted to beat a piece of furniture? Do you have any idea what that brown goop could have been?

Come back next week when we see how the old girl looks now.

32 comments:

  1. OMG stripping is the worst!!! i avoid it when possible!!!

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  2. I was just about to consider a project similar to this...I may rethink it now. Looks like you are winning.

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  3. Phew! That's a job! I have only stripped 2 pieces of furniture in my life. That is why! All your hard work will pay off ;) xo Kristin

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  4. I just know this story is going to have a happy ending...

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  5. So lad you are taking the red paint off....I have a church pew bench as well....and adore it. I have it at the entrance to my house to decorate but its perfect as a catch-all...rest-up....this DIY is going to take a while I think. You totally made the best decision. You came back full of energy from your vacay!

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  6. Brought back memories of my potting bench last summer! I'm sure everyone was sick of me whining about how hard it was. Can't wait to see it!

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  7. That amount of work scares me but it is going to look awesome if you can keep up your motivation!

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  8. Get Stripeez. Wow it falls off.
    Happy Wednesday.
    Teresa
    xoxo

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  9. I love a red bench in the kitchen! So cute!

    Looks like this was a ton of work- great job!

    Nicole
    www.eleganceandclutter.com

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  10. We tried to remove 40+ years of "Pledge" from my Grandmother's beautiful mahogany end tables and dining chairs!! It was impossible. We decided to do it because we literally were sticking to the back of the chairs! ....Never did get it all off. Grandma's cleaning woman, over the years, had those pieces shinning alright!!!

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  11. Oh my word I hear ya! I got a chair off the side of the road, that I really loved the shape, but I also had that "free fog" where I didn't see a lot of the problems. After a few hours sanding and not much accomplished, I have now decided just to paint it. :)

    Good luck! I really like the paint color in your dining room!

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  12. I'm exhausted just from reading about your "adventure." I'll be back next week when things are done.

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  13. It's looking good so far!

    DCWJes
    http://theoffaltruthandothermusings.wordpress.com

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  14. Hmm - perhaps it's best not to think about what the brown goop was. Generally nothing good can come from something called "brown goop"! :) I ran into a similar situation when I painted an old dresser of mine that my folks originally picked up from the town dump (yep). It had way more layers than I expected and the wood was total crap so the whole thing got some Zinsser primer before paint.

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  15. Yup, happened to me before, but not as big as your pew project definitely! good luck Elizabeth, I'm sure all your effort will be worthwhile in the end.

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  16. Oh, sister, I have BEEN there. Citristrip can be super effective, but I've also used it and been really disappointed. It seems like a crap-shoot. I am keeping my fingers crossed that the bench will turn out to be amazing and well worth the effort.

    So, is this bench the real reason you went on vacation? :)

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  17. Haha! I can so relate! However, it sounds like you conquered. Looking forward to seeing the reveal!

    P.s. thanks for your lovely comment. Following along too:-)

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  18. Ahhhhhh! You have no idea! I have half finished refinishing projects all over the place due to the very same problem. My husband used to ask if he could pitch them or what was going on but I have learned to hide them under piles of crap (like childhood toys) that he won't even touch. That's my tip for you.

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  19. I hate stripping. I totally underestimated my Louis XVI chairs. I found 4 at a consignment shop and was determined to do everything myself. It took me forever to strip one chair completely! Someone decided to give them a green wash of some sort which is just horrible! There were also 1 million staples on each chair frame. I resorted to just using Rustoleum paint and primer to spray paint them all a crisp white. I really wanted more of a rustic, white-washed look but I was ready to break all 4 chairs and decided this would help me keep sane. Can't wait to see what you do with the bench!

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  20. I have a bad habit of underestimating DIY projects as well, so I feel your pain. You are much better at finishing things though. The brown goo might be years and years of dirty fingerprints eating away the original varnish that they then painted over. But it's probably just paint, old oil paint. :)

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  21. * Glad I found you... am enjoying your blog, and even back-reading! THANKS!

    Linda in AZ
    bellesmom1234@comcast.net

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  22. I've been there, oh lord I feel your pain!! I love that you stripped it though, can't wait to see it all fancy!!

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  23. Oh my goodness! I know what that banging your head feeling is like! I had weeks and weeks of that when I did my staircase! There is light at the end of the tunnel and I am sure will turn out fabulous!!!

    Kayla
    K.R Dixon Designs
    http://adelightfulplacetodwell.com

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  24. Elizabeth, that room looks fabulous!!! Can't wait to see ;)... You are one awesome mama. PS--I have not ripped the bandaid on potty training Worth yet, but he is peeing in the potty like a champ... Crazy, kinda training himself. I'm still going to have a two day potty training camp before preschool starts!... Just keeping you informed ;)

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  25. I feel you ... while I like citristrip, it mostly ends with with a pile of goop, me frustrated and more goop on the piece. I wish it would take all of it off the first time!

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  26. I am in LOVE with your dining room! I've been feeling the need to add more wood into a space lately too but haven't had the energy to refinish a piece of furniture in my garage stash! I feel your pain! I can't wait to see how your piece turns out!!

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  27. Oh I have been there! It is going to look amazing! Keep on going... it will be well worth it!

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  28. Oh man...I know it's going to look awesome when it's done. But yes, I totally understand where you're coming from!!

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  29. I don't mean to laugh at your misery but I couldn't help when I read, "I don't really have any pictures of this phase as its hard to take a picture while banging your head" and this: "'Who in lucifer's reach made this #%$^!!!'." AHAHAHA!! Oh bless ya, it'll be worth the pain in the end my dear - and if not, there's always a very large glass of wine as a reward for a hard days work ;) x

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  30. I have totally been there! That's how it was when I did my dining room table. I vowed I would never strip anything again, total nightmare!

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  31. I have not only broken up with a DIY project but thrown it in the trash.....there I taught that piece of furniture a lesson. See how it likes it's new home now. Not to be blunt or anything but stripping furniture sucks. I would have quit long before you I think.....

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  32. looking fantastic already! I know how hard that was to strip! good job! Love the history of the piece.
    xo Nancy

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