Life, Woodworking

What’s Old is New Again… and Then Old Again

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My father-in-law built this hutch in the 1980s, and after being used as a bookshelf for twenty years, it sat unused in a rabbit shed. My wife asked me to repair it and refinish it.

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Here’s the main problem: one of the legs broke and had been replaced by a piece of scrap. Such an elegant solution!

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The damage hiding beneath the scrap.

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The back panels were in pretty bad shape. The bottom section was literally held together with tape…

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…so I removed it.

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Very carefully, I cut out the broken leg. I believe this is also how a doctor repairs a broken leg.

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I used the leg on the other side to trace a template onto the new wood.

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A handsaw and a coping saw took care of the cuts.

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The bottom shelf sits inside a dado, so I had to add that to the new piece.

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I hand-cut the dado because my table saw was covered in boxes, since I was reorganizing the garage during this project.

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You can hardly tell where the new wood starts and the old wood ends!

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Copious amounts of wood filler took care of the screw holes and the gaps between the two pieces.

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After sanding, it was all smooth and continuous.

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I took the top panel off of the back too because it was water-damaged, and since I was going to replace the bottom panel, I could just replace them both with a single sheet of plywood.

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I sanded the entire hutch until the finish was gone. This is my least favorite part of any refinishing project.

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The new birch plywood back panel.

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Ready for paint. Oh no, paint? Yes paint. I wouldn’t have used non-matching wood plus wood filler if it wasn’t going to be painted anyway.

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My wife says this color is popular right now. (I believe its official name is “57 Chevy Bel Air Seafoam.”) She asked that I use chalk paint to get the “old” look; this paint should wear more easily than regular paint and begin to look even more distressed as we use the hutch.

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The repaired corner. Imperceptible. Undetectable.

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I reused the old hardware, since we were going for an old look anyway.

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Oops. I probably should have checked that the doors lined up before screwing them back on. Maybe that’s why one had been taken off. I ended up filling the screw holes for one set of hinges and rehanging the door 1/8″ higher.

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With arms wide open.

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The finished product. I have a “huntch” that this hutch is ready for another thirty years of use.

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3 thoughts on “What’s Old is New Again… and Then Old Again

  1. Helmut says:

    Wonderful job.
    Pressboard ok, but I always find such colors like a rape of real wood. The beautiful wooden texture: all gone.

    If you don’t mind, I’d have two questions:
    Why did you saw the curve with a handsaw and not an electrical one?
    How did you do the sanding: by hand? Used grain sizes?

    • Why did you saw the curve with a handsaw and not an electrical one?

      My handsaw was easier to get, and by the time I would have plugged in a jigsaw and gotten set up with it, I would have already finished the cut with the coping saw.

      How did you do the sanding: by hand? Used grain sizes?

      Random orbital sander with 80-grit and 120-grit sanding discs. Sanding sponges for any of the places the sander couldn’t reach.

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