How do I restore Antique Ice Box, table, trunk, hutch & dresser that I inherited from my Mammaw?

Sandy K
by Sandy K
What is the best product to use to make it look like new without painting it? Also, I want to turn the hutch into a potting bench for the back porch. What is the best product to spray on it to protect it from moisture?
  15 answers
  • Z Z on Oct 11, 2012
    Hard to say for sure without seeing photos, but I like Restore A Finish. My guess would be a marine varnish for your second question.
  • Warren G. Warren G. on Oct 11, 2012
    Hand rubbed Tung Oil finish has been used for finishes form the turn of the 1900 century. I refinish antiques and make furniture by hand and that is all I will use. Do a Google search and you will find that Tung Oil can be used on all kinds of surfaces from cooking utensils to kids furniture , to cement counter tops and furniture.
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Oct 12, 2012
    I use Howard's Feed and Wax for my older natural wood stuff. By natural I mean things that do not have a Poly top surface those cases simple dusting works. as the natural bees wax and orange oil of the Howards can not get "through" the plastic top layer. using them on that is just a waste of time and money. Marine varnish is one option but it tend to loose flexibility when exposed to oil based poly would be a bit better. Cetol makes some really good UV protected ones
  • Z Z on Oct 12, 2012
    @KMS Woodworks Kevin, wouldn't it depend on what the condition of the piece she wants to bring back to life on how she goes about restoring it? If there are scratches and other wear marks would the Howard's Feed and Wax still work?
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Oct 13, 2012
    @Z it does matter what kind of shape the pieces are in...I reworked lots of things from older Shellac based to spar varnish to painted and natural. Sanding can remove the "old" finish but it can also remove and lot of the character and charm of the ding dents etc. My most recent 2 "antique" projects involved using a citrus based chemical stripper to remove old mixed varnish residue. then the surface was protected with a wiping poly (client wanted a degree of water resistance) I normally only use the wax and orange oil on simple sanded cherry jewelry really pops the patina with time
  • Gail Salminen Gail Salminen on Oct 13, 2012
    There are a few ideas here for refinished trunks - just search out trunks in the search feature. Here is what I found - Also lots of ideas for dressers - I particularly like @TaniaC idea, I did a bit of a rendition of this one, But @Z is right, difficult to recommend without pics. Also lots of ideas for tables - You just need to decide where the item will be used and how it will be used. But there are ideas abound here on the site, then there is google LOL Would be interested in seeing pics of your finished products, the postings here inspire me with creativity! Just love this site and those that post, hard to get housework done or anything else when there is so much to see here :)
  • Sandy K Sandy K on Oct 13, 2012
    Thanks to all of you for your comments and ideas! I will take some pictures and post them.
  • Sandy K Sandy K on Oct 13, 2012
    Here are some pictures . . .
  • Gail Salminen Gail Salminen on Oct 13, 2012
    @Sandy K - very nice pieces! I am not sure I would do anything to the antique trunk, it is beautiful :) As for the other pieces they are lovely as well. You will have to determine where and how you want them used. For the writing desk, I am a big fan of wood tops and some paint on the rest, sometimes only one piece such as the drawer painted can be very effective - just freshen the rest up with sanding and staining in the colour you prefer. The hutch, I would try just freshening up the screening with some paint, again your colour choice then decide if the rest needed something - my tastes would lean towards black or copper. The antique ice box is beautiful as well, not sure what to suggest here, but others may have some suggestions. Am really interested in seeing the end results of your projects :)
  • Sandy K Sandy K on Oct 13, 2012
    Thank you Gail! All the pieces are in really good condition. My Mother took very good care of everything and my brother was very good at restoring pieces and in fact he did the screening on the hutch years ago. I was wondering if I could just use something like liquid gold to polish everything.
  • Sandy K Sandy K on Oct 13, 2012
    Ok, thanks! I'll look for it at Lowe's tomorrow. :)
  • Z Z on Oct 14, 2012
    Thanks @KMS Woodworks Kevin. I don't particularly like dings and such so smooth from sanding works for me.
  • Chris J Chris J on May 06, 2015
    We use Olde English and/or Homer Formsby products on our quarter-sawn oak furniture. We had an aquarium one time that we didn't know was splattering water on the side of our china hutch until we went to move the hutch. It was all raised and kind of rough textured. We used the Olde English and it took care of the problem. Then we put some Homer Formsby on and it looked almost like new. Try on a hidden place first if you don't want to do the whole thing. We swear by those 2 products.
  • Marianne Howley Marianne Howley on Jul 25, 2015
    Sandy i love restoring old furniture to its original glory..i always use can buy it at Ace Hardware...paint it on and wait 15=20 minutes and scrape off all paint varnish all comes there is...then you can put a coat of polyurethane to seal it in...lightly sand before coating tho
  • Wanda.ll Wanda.ll on Sep 15, 2015
    Here is what I've used and all the antique stores use on very old pieces. You can pick it up several places just ask. But just in case you can't find you can order here. It is called Restore works great and doesn't mess up original color unless you want to change( like darker)