How can I clean and redo this old trunk?

by Freda

I have been given this wonderful old trunk inbetween the timber the fabric looks like linen , the brass is a little rusty. What is the best way to clean the writing off the fabric. I think it’s permanent marker. The fabric also has some water marks I think. I want to give this beautiful trunk a new lease of life. Has anyone got any ideas ? Many thanks

  10 answers
  • Cindy Cindy on Feb 01, 2019

    Hi Freda. My name is Cindy. Salt and lime juice will remove rust. WD40 can be used to remove rust too. Don't sand the rust because it might scratch the piece. You can also use WD40 to remove the permanent marker, Another way to remove it is with alcohol. The kind of alcohol you drink. Put it on with cotton balls and then soak it back up with paper towel. You should see the ink transfer to the paper towel. Repeat if necessary. Good luck Freda.

    • Grace Gleason Grace Gleason on Feb 02, 2019

      Sorry. Even 200 proof alcohol won't remove permanent marker from wood - or linen. I have tried. You will probably have to remove the fabric & replace it. There is a reason it's called PERMANENT marker.

  • Michelle Michelle on Feb 02, 2019

    I would also seal the inside . If you are removing the liner - seal with shellac. If not- still seal to avoid the musty smell. I have refinished trunks and used tung oil for the wood finishes. I also updated the color of the tarnished locks with a rub on metal cover. I would put casters on it and have a glass or plexiglas top cut if you are using it for a table.

    • Carolinagirl Carolinagirl on Feb 02, 2019

      Man, I love your idea regarding the casters and using glass/plexiglass on top. Would that be too high for a coffee table? Some may not like casters but there are many styles of legs you can many it's hard to choose.

  • Lindy Lindy on Feb 02, 2019

    Oh how I love an old trunk!!! I have refinished a few in a few different ways. You have the option of painting the fabric. Clean it with some TSP and water first--don't soak it, you just want to clean it a bit. Paint with Kilz, let it dry, then paint with a color of choice. You can also recover the fabric with something like burlap ar even new linen. Use a spray adhesive on the fabric and carefully lay it down. finish edges with fabric trim on the sides. You can clean the brass with a brass cleaner. If you have smooth top stove cleaner try that--I used it on copper and it cleaned that right up. The black strips can be repainted carefully and before applying fabric. The inside should be aired out in the sun if possible or used baking soda to absorb the musty smell before you begin. Cover with wallpaper--they have self-adhesive brands that are beautiful, or fabric. You could even put a layer of padding under the fabric for a bit of softness. This can be stapled onto the trunk with a heavy duty stapler. There are also upholstery tack strips where every 3rd hole has an actual tack that is pounded into the wood. Wish I could come and enjoy the rehab with you!

  • Suzanne Stenson O'Brien Suzanne Stenson O'Brien on Feb 02, 2019

    It’s really pretty

  • Em Em on Feb 02, 2019

    I love the new trend of painted wood but this is so beautiful I would leave as much of the wood show thru. Use Kilz primer on the marker if it is on material, really hard to tell without a close up. sand and stain the wood. Pick your favorite color and paint in between the wood. You can sand and tape around the hardware and repaint silver, gold, copper, bronze with acrylic and give it a top coat or two. Acrylic is cheap, no over spray and will last since it is not an outdoor piece. The inside can be covered easily with your favorite pre-pasted wall paper. Apply just like you would on a wall. Or cover with material. Make it 1/2 inch larger than each side. Fold under and glue. Then glue the material by brushing on glue to one side, and placing the material smoothing as you go. You are lucky. it is a beautiful trunk.

  • Denise Denise on Feb 02, 2019

    The material will be canvas, I have an identical trunk that I have done, paint stripped , stained & lacquered

  • Robert G Robert G on Feb 02, 2019

  • Robert G Robert G on Feb 02, 2019

    to remove marker- rubbing alcohol or finger nail polish on a rag, try a small area, see how it goes. If it is crayon, get an old white towel and a irn, turn on hot and lay towel down on marks and iron the marks, if it is crayon it will lift to the white cotton towel

    Once all removed use Milsek all over if you are not painting it and want to bring back the natural beauty

  • Robert G Robert G on Feb 02, 2019

    If the above does not work, fine sandpaper will remove it