How to Refinish a Cedar Chest in a Few Simple Steps

by Rhettsrefinishes

Refinishing a cedar chest can breathe new life into a piece of furniture, and the satisfaction of restoring its beauty is unparalleled.

In this tutorial, I'll guide you through the process I used to refinish my cedar chest, sharing tips and techniques that make the journey rewarding. Be prepared for a bit of elbow grease and time, but the finished product will be well worth the effort.

Tools and materials

  • Mild soap or wood cleaner
  • Soft cloth or sponge
  • Towel
  • Iron
  • Scraper
  • Hammer
  • Electric sander
  • Sandpaper (various grits)
  • All-purpose Bondo
  • Putty knife or applicator
  • Clear shellac
  • Spray bottle
  • paint
  • Paint sprayer gun
Cleaning the chest

Step 1: Cleaning

Start by cleaning the cedar chest thoroughly. Use a mild soap or wood cleaner and a soft cloth or sponge to remove any dirt or grime. Ensure the surface is dry before moving on to the next step.

Removing the veneer

Step 2: Veneer Removal

Identify damaged veneer areas and remove the veneer as best as you can. For difficult areas, cover them with a towel. Apply heat using an iron over the towel to loosen the adhesive.

Once heated, use a scraper and a hammer to gently remove the veneer while it's still warm. Exercise caution and patience, especially in stubborn areas.

Smoothly the surface with an electric sander

Step 3: Surface Smoothing

Even out the entire surface by using an electric sander with various grit sandpapers. Start with a coarse grit to remove imperfections and progress to finer grits for a smooth finish. Be thorough, paying attention to corners and intricate details.

Applying all-purpose Bondo to repair the wood

Step 4: Wood Repair

Apply all-purpose Bondo to repair any damaged areas of the wood. Use a putty knife or applicator to spread the Bondo evenly over the imperfections. Allow it to dry completely before moving on to the next step.

Sealing and priming the cedar chest

Step 5: Sealing and Priming

Prevent bleed-through by spraying clear shellac over the entire chest. This step ensures a clean canvas for your chosen paint color. Apply the shellac evenly using a spray bottle, allowing it to dry completely.

Painting the chest pink

Step 6: Painting

Select a paint color that complements your style. In my case, the vibrant Dreamsicle pink added a charming touch. Using a paint sprayer gun, evenly coat the entire chest with the chosen paint color.

Allow each coat to dry thoroughly before applying the next one, ensuring a smooth and flawless finish.

Cedar chest before
How to refinish a cedar chest

How to refinish a cedar chest

Congratulations on successfully refinishing your cedar chest! The process may require time and effort, but the end result is a rejuvenated and personalized piece of furniture that reflects your style.

Enjoy the satisfaction of transforming an old, worn-out chest into a stunning and unique centerpiece for your home. Leave me a comment and let me know how your project came out.

Follow @rhettsrefinishes on Instagram for more DIY ideas.

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