If buying someone’s unwanted cast-offs and turning them into treasure is your sort of thing, you’ll love Serena Appiah.
The crafty artist has many talents, and her most impressive work always involves a transformation of an old, past-its-best item into something completely original and modern-looking.
In one of her most popular videos, Serena shows off her talents with a before and after of a wood chest makeover.
She bought the chest from a thrift store for $40, but as she had a voucher, she technically got it for free.
Though the chest has clearly seen better days, there’s nothing too badly damaged, which is why Serena saw it as a perfect project piece.
Sensing this was an item of beauty, Serena didn’t want to “ruin” the chest with paint.
So instead, she used a pretty wood dye and liming wax to highlight the good-quality grain of the oak.
The first thing to do was to remove the hinges from the chest and sand it down.
Right now, the chest looked a little too much like a coffin for Serena’s liking, and she knew she’d need to put in the work to change that.
After sanding off the old stain, Serena applied some water to the oak, for her water-based wood dye.
Wood dye is a little different from stain because it actually penetrates the wood, rather than just lying on top of the wood.
Serena chose wood dye as it wouldn’t disturb the red oak grain – it would highlight and accentuate it instead.
A tip from Serena is to use a lazy Susan or a swivel TV stand to spin the chest around as you work.
The next step was to apply a barrier coat of shellac sanding sealer. This helped to seal the dye, so that nothing put on top of the dye would affect the color.
It took about 40 minutes to dry – and Serena followed by applying some sandpaper to smooth everything out.
For the next layer, Serena used a water-based top coat.
This made her feel a little nervous as it went on slightly purple, but it dried clear and smooth, and she could move onto the next step quickly.
Taking some liming wax, Serena applied it all over the chest to highlight the grain. Liming wax is perfect for using on oak – but you only need a little to make an impact.
Finally, Serena added some clear wax, which removed any leftover liming wax, leaving a nice highlighted grain.
For the finishing touches, Serena added some metallic wax to the hinges of the chest. She wanted to personalize the chest, so she made a monogram of her initials for the front.
She was hoping that the monograph, made out of a sheet of aluminum, would make the chest feel more like a personal artifact and less like a coffin.
Though she was impressed with the finished look, Serena admitted she still thought it looked like a coffin.
But even so, there’s no denying that she managed to drastically improve the chest as it was when she first bought it.
If you fancy a coffin-chest project for Halloween, this one will be right up your alley! Or you could always use Serena’s video as a guide but use a slightly less gothic finishing color.
You can watch the full video, with step-by-step instructions, just below.
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