Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Adventures of Mrs. T…

Let me tell you about Mrs. T and the adventures we had together. This story will just be tutorial where I share my lessons learned rather than instructions how-to. Because really, what are the chances you will see a set of file boxes on Craigslist and want to turn them into an end table for a friend? Not very good. But there is a good chance that you may hit some of the same road bumps while repairing and refreshing your own Craigslist finds.
Mrs. T’s beginning where humble ones. She was a set of boxes intended to store scrapbook paper that her previous owner no longer loved and cast off to some stranger with $20. Here she is scared and alone the night I brought her home. Picture 002-1
She actually began as two separate pieces so I started her journey to find her true form by gluing her sides together. I smeared one side with Gorilla Wood Glue set the other side on top and weighed it down with wine bottles.
IMG_4426-1 IMG_4427
If you look closely you can tell I did this step shortly after I visited the Land of Two Buck Chuck…oh, Trader Joe’s, why won’t you come to Texas? You make me sad…

There were a few other steps where I glued major parts together and this is what I learned:
Lesson #342-389:
  • Careful what you use to weigh it down. Paint cans will inexplicable fall and pour paint everywhere. And you will be thanking the Lord for tile floors.
    • Bonus lesson: If you want to make your grout lines look cleaner, pour white paint everywhere and then wipe it back up.
  • Okay, the lamp probably wasn’t a good idea either. or the wine bottles from before. Use things that can fall and live.
  • Walk away. Just walk away. Do not plan on moving to the next step in 20 minutes even though the instructions say the glue should be set by then. The longer you let it sit the stronger the bond you will have. So just walk away…
  • If you are a nerd, using welding books will make you smile. I think it has something to do with using welding to join things together without welding. And seeing my academic pursuits aid my creative pursuits.

    This is the glue I used. And lesson learned? It works great.
    gorilla wood glue
    To paint, I used an oil based primer. I always use this primer when painting on a laminate or veneer surface. When using oil based paint, it is best to use a roller or brush that is disposable. In between coats, wrap it in plastic wrap and a Ziploc bag and then throw away when you are done! I just got this Purdy brush a little while ago. It works really great but I recommend only using it with latex paint simply for the cleaning up factor.

    All projects have an ugly stage. Lesson #401: Some projects have extremely long ugly stages. If I had to guess what puberty looked like for furniture, it would be this:

    Lesson #452: Just because $3 for a leg and $2 for a base plate sounds inexpensive, doesn’t mean it will  be. When you multiply that by 4 it adds up. So worth it though. See those great legs that help Mrs. T look like a piece of furniture? You find them here. I simply screwed the base plate (found here) to the bottom of Mrs. T and then screw in the legs. And see how they have brass tips? Well a pizza box, Frog Tape, a plastic bag, and silver Krylon spray paint fixed that. 

    Lesson #647: Wood filler is wonderful.
    When I cut the board for the top, I did a less than perfect job. I am still pretty proud of my cutting skills considering I was using a circular saw and supporting the wood on a plastic trunk. I was able to make up for my loose interpretation of square by adding wood filler to the corner. The trick with wood filler is to over fill and then sand smooth. Works like a charm. When I got done painting, you couldn’t tell I had so badly goofed.
    One side of Mrs. T was designed with slits to allow for the hook part of hanging files but since that was no longer her job, I filled them with wood filler.
    IMG_4623 IMG_4611 It took several round of filling, drying, and sanding but when I got done it was solid and smooth. You can also see where I used the wood filler to fill any gaps between my top/bottom board and Mrs. T’s original boxing.
    I choose to dress up Mrs. T by Mod Podging on some great paper and quickly learned that matching the pattern is a bear but painting under the areas where your seam will be with a camouflaging color helps keep things looking nice and neat. My Purdy paint brush made it possible to paint my camouflaging color with minimal touching up.
    Lesson learned #953: There will be less touch ups to do if you don’t try to take a picture of yourself using your Purdy brush.

    Lesson learned # 1013: If you aren’t cool enough to own those cool bench cookies from Rockler, spray paint cans can be a substitute for light weight items. Worked well while I was Mod Podging.
    To finish and protect Mrs. T, I used a combination of Wipe-On Poly and Finishing Wax.
    IMG_4767 IMG_5105-1
    I wanted the harder finish that the Wipe-On Poly gives so I put several coats of that on all surfaces and then used the Finishing Wax on the top to give Mrs. T that real furniture feel. I am having troubles with lint and the finishing wax. Does anyone have any lessons they have learned to share?

    As a recap, here is most of the products I used.
    If I could do it all over again the #1 thing I would change would be to do all of the constructing first and then paint. With snow days and multiple redundant trips to the store, I was trying to do what I could when I could but I think that really added to my frustrations.

    After following along on our journey, you may be wondering why did I name her Mrs. T? Well because she pities the fool that doesn’t learn lessons from their mistakes and the mistakes of others. Lessons learned, Mrs. T… Lessons Learned.

    And because I have to have one gratuitous pup pic, here is Desmond waxing philosophical over Mrs. T.
    And here she is in her new home!
    Mrs. T will be attending the following parties:
    DIY Club
    Furniture Feature Fridays


    1. Ooh, girl - that turned out AWESOME! It looks so great in her place! Next time I visit y'all I'm SO stealing it ;)
      Also, I agree - your narrative was too funny! Loved your "loose interpretation of square"!

    2. It looks great! Thanks for sharing your learning process, love the doggie photo, too! Thanks so much for visiting me!!!

    3. it was worth all the learning and effort! it's so unique, funky, and i love it!

    4. Just spotted your piece at Miss Mustard Seed. Love it!!! What a beautiful colour combination and a great transformation.

    5. Hey there I'm starting my first link party tomorrow and i love this transformation you did and would love for you to share it! Thanks!