Vintage Pine Trunk

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Established Member
14 Jan 2018
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Sunny Fermanagh
I bought this pine trunk today with the intention of refurbishing it to sell on.




It's really nicely made with dovetail joints & iron binding on the edges. It has been living in a garage serving as a tool box & there are signs of oil stains on the lid. The base smells a bit of waste oil & is stained black.

I want to strip the outside back to clean wood if I can & wax it. The metal has had black paint plastered on it, I'll strip this off & either repaint with satin black or just wax it.

I'm just going to clean the inside & paint it if it's too grubby.

What would be the best way to strip back the outside - wire wool, sandpaper or what else?


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That is a nice tool box. I think it needs no more than a clean and a wax. If you strip and sand it you will lose all of its colour and patina. If it were mine I would wash it all over with some detergent and 0000 wire wool. If the top has had oil on it you could cover it with fullers earth and leave for a week until all the oil has been absorbed, then perhaps a light sand, a light stain and a coat or two of varnish. The red paint on the interior is great, just a wash n wax for that.
I agree this is a case of less is more. Just a good clean will likely do wonders and the wet appearance will give you a preview of what it'll look like after waxing as recommended already.

A great cleaning solution for surfaces you know to be oily is hot soapy water with a splash of turps or white spirit added. Probably won't do much to help with the bottom but it should help with the oil stains on the top, although you'll probably need to soak those out to get rid of them entirely.

I was reading Bob Flexner's advice on oil stains just the other day, using a paste of acetone and fuller's earth (link). But note what he says, if the stain is older this will probably not work.
you don't want to stip it back with sanding, just use wax and wire wool then buff it out, that's all it needs, you could easily remove 50+ years of patina.
Thanks for the replies, some useful advice there. =D>

I was going to try meths & wire wool or a scotch pad but soap & water could work too. I have a pumice based hand cleaner which might get the oil off without doing any harm.
Whatever I do I'll try to preserve as much patina as I can & take pics as I go along to let you all see what happened. :)