Upcycling: Transforming the 'Old' into a Better 'New'

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Turn old or discarded furniture, cabinets and doors into fresh new creations through “upcycling” — high-end “recycling” that refurbishes or repurposes existing pieces, often enhancing the value. Woodcraft offers the following ideas and products to get you started.

Upcycling Projects

• Family furniture: Save chairs, tables, and other furniture passed down through the generations by doing repairs, if needed, and staining/painting to suit your current decor.

• Other furniture or “yard sale finds”: These also can be stabilized and given a new look through stain/paint or distressing, but some may also lend themselves to transformation for other uses, such as turning a chest of drawers into bookshelves, a chair into a swing, a dresser into a seat, and more.

• Doors and more: Solid wood doors make great tops for tables and kitchen islands, old-fashioned screen doors hung from the ceiling can store pots and pans, and old windows make attractive wall hangings used “as is” or with additions, such as photos.

• Cabinets: Change the look of your kitchen, bathroom or workshop with a new color for your cabinets and new handles and pulls.

Helpful Products

• Repair: Furniture that has been around awhile may need repair. For weak chair joints, drill a hole, inject Briwax ChaiRx, and wait for it to swell the joints for a strong bond. For other repairs, Titebond I, II or III and other glues will work.

• Transition: Changing the use and form of wood pieces will involve varied tasks.

For projects that involve disassembly of furniture or doors, followed by reassembly of some pieces into a new creation, the Kreg Jig(R) K4 Master System offers quick joinery — strong pocket-hole joints.

Stanley Chair Braces are designed for corner reinforcement on chairs, tables, chests, and more for quick, easy construction and repairs.

• Color: Once you have selected and/or repaired a piece of old furniture or created a new piece from an existing one, determine where your upcycled piece will “live,” which color or colors will look best there, and which type of paint or finish will achieve the desired effect.

Use Restor-A-Finish(R) to “uncover” the original finish on an heirloom or other old piece of furniture. Available in six colors plus neutral, it revives the wood finish’s luster while blending out minor scratches and blemishes.

To change or refurbish the color, the three products listed below are easy to use. In addition, surface prep for furniture and cabinets requires only cleaning and light sanding.

For a beautiful hand rubbed wood finish look, choose General Finishes Gel Stain and Topcoats. Available in 12 shades, including the popular Java, these urethane stains and topcoats are easy to use: simply wipe on with a rag and wipe off the excess. To protect the gel stain, especially for heavy-use surfaces such as tabletops, General Finishes offers three options: Gel Satin Top Coat, PolyAcrylic Top Coat or High Performance Top Coat.

General Finishes Water Based Milk Paints and Glaze Effects offer a wide range of color possibilities. Use one of the 20 premixed acrylic Milk Paint colors, such as Tuscan red, or combine two colors (using a topcoat between applications). To create eye-catching decorative finishes such as distressing, antiquing, marble effects, shabby chic, and more, choose one of the six translucent glaze effects to go with any water-based stain or paint.

Old-Fashioned Milk Paint is a powder made from earth pigments, which is mixed with water to make 20 rich colors that authentically reflect colors found on existing antique furniture and buildings.

To uncover the original wood surface on furniture, SOY-Gel™ Professional Paint Stripper is easy to use, virtually odorless and has no known health hazards.

— Metro Creative

Second-hand furniture is a virtual goldmine for people who can see the potential behind old or tired-looking pieces. Give new life to the old! “Upcycle” today!