Susan K Mullins
Susan K Mullins
  • Tutorial Team
  • Ardmore, AL

Mamie’s Chest

5 Materials
5 Days

This piece has sat in storage at my mom’s for many years. It belonged to my precious, great grandmother, aka Mamie. The chest is way over one hundred years old. Mamie lived with my grandmother and she used the chest in her bedroom. I remember Mamie kept her Jewerly, that she let me play with when I was a little girl, in one of the top drawers. She had hair to her waist and she kept her brush and hair pins
mamie s chest
This is the chest turned upside down. I removed the drawers to help with the weight when I turned it over. The casters in the legs were rusty. First I sprayed them with WD-40 and let them set for a while. Then I used pliers to remove the casters.
mamie s chest
As you can see, the casters were no good. So I knew I would not use them on the chest when I finished the redo.
mamie s chest
Next I removed the drawers pulls, I wasn’t going to use them either. But...Being the keeper of all old things, I put them in a bag...just in case...Do you do that too? By-the-way, they are in the top drawer ina bag. LOL
mamie s chest
Now for a good cleaning. I used warm water, cleaner and an old cloth to give the chest a good cleaning. Many spiders had left their abandoned webs inside the corners of the chest. It was also covered in inches of dust and dirt.
mamie s chest
Once the chest was clean, I used Citrusstrip Paint Stripper to remove the old paint. A lot of the paint was loose, so it did not take much to lift the old paint. I applied the paint stripper with a cheap brush and let it set for for about 24 hours. I then used a combination of scraping with a painter’s scraper and sand paper and some reapplying of stripper, until all of the paint was removed. At this point I was unsure of whether I wanted to paint or stain the top. I knew I was leaning toward staining the top, so I paid careful attention to stripping the top very well.
So sorry, but, I do not have all of my pictures because some of them were lost when I placed them in a mobile storage area. This made me sick. I still have not located many of my pictures.
mamie s chest
I painted the sides, front and drawers with green Rust-Oleum spray paint. It was paint I already had, I think it was Hunter Green. I sprayed the paint and let it dry, before spraying a second coat. When the paint had dried for 48 hours, I covered the bottom with plastic, so I could stain the top.I stained the top of the chest with Minwax Stain, Golden Oak. I applied the stain with a clean, soft, cotton piece of cloth ( actually an old tee shirt cut into pieces).
mamie s chest
I wanted the piece to maintain it’s aged character, so I sanded off spots where I wanted it to appear worn from use. To protect the piece, I used Minwax Paste Finishing Wax. For this step, I cleaned the piece with a soft, cotton cloth and applied a thin coat of the wax. After the wax was throughly dried, I polished it with a clean, soft, cotton cloth. I purchased new pulls for the drawers. I also added the decorative key holds by using Gorilla Wood Glue. The last part for me was to write down the history of Mamie’s chest with her name, dates of her birth and death, place of burial and other family information on a piece of paper to place in one of the drawers, so my children will always know the legacy of Mamie's Chest
mamie s chest
I love Mamie’s Chest. The bottom drawer holds some of her old quilts. On top of the chest is her daughter’s, my grandmother’s, Bible.

Suggested materials:

  • Old chest
  • Paint stripper
  • Paint
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3 of 15 comments
  • Ema Nnem
    on Mar 14, 2018

    Beautiful job and the stories teared me, I also absolutely love the bible part of the story and how beautifully you display it... I have2 piece bedroom set from niece I've been procrastinating about for far too long, these are pretty BIG pieces so I guess that's been my best excuse😄 thanks for the inspiration

  • Karen Hurst
    on Mar 26, 2018

    Wonderful memory of your great grandmother you shared. I hope your kids keep the piece of history. It's beautiful. 1 question, you said you wrote her name and dob/dod on paper. Did you decopodge it in a drawer?

    • Susan K Mullins
      on Mar 26, 2018

      No, but that is a great idea! Thank you for the idea. I just wrote the info on a sheet of paper and taped it inside of a drawer.

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