Over the last 10 days, and with a lot of "sweat equity", this beat-up little $5 bookcase has transformed into this beauty:
I'm normally so excited to get started that I forget to take photos along the way, so I tried my best to remember to capture every stage this time. In hindsight I see that I missed out on some photo opps but I did, however, get enough to give you the basic idea. I think next time I'll take some action shots so you really know I did the work myself!
When I purchased the bookshelf from the thrift store, it had a layer of creme latex paint on top of what I thought was an oil-based paint, due to the way the top layer was easily peeling off over the coat underneath. I got off what I could of the latex paint, but decided to use paint stripper to make sure that all of the latex paint was off before applying the primer. A few years ago I made the mistake of applying latex paint on top of oil-based and it was a complete DISASTER. I've since learned my lesson and decided to take the extra time to do it right. Anyway, to strip the paint I used this:
I wanted to try the environmentally friendly kind ("Citri-Strip" or something like that), but this tin is mostly full and I'd like to use it up before I try something new. Also, I'm not too sure about how well it works (anyone used it before?) and it takes much, much longer to work than what I have. This stuff works in 15-30 minutes, which is great for an impatient person like me. It originally came with a spray bottle, but I've lost it along the way, so I poured it into a new, quart-sized paint can and applied it with a brush--it was a bit messier, but all in all worked just as well. The first photo (above) was taken while I was waiting for the first layer of this stuff to work--after the 30 minutes it just bubbled up and scraped off fairly easily. Here's a side/back view:
After 3-4 layers of paint stripper and extensive sanding (which was very easy and almost fun due my handy Black & Decker that I had forgotten about) I was left with this:
As you can see, somewhere between layers 2 & 3 of stripper I decided to remove and replace the back because it was a mess and nearly impossible to get all of the old paint off. I ended up replacing it with this "eucaboard" (plywood?), and although I was concerned about how paint and poly would take to the material, it came out really well:
I forgot to take photos when I was applying the primer, but it looked like a less finished version of this (below). I used the same color "oops" paint as with the other bookcase, and applied polyurethane to the shelves and the back to ensure that the paint doesn't get nicked. I was planning on using my normal minwax poly, but I was told that it can't be applied over latex paint. I know that it's oil-based, but it seems like I've done it before and I know I haven't a problem. Being that I'm me, I wanted to go ahead and use what I had to prove the guy wrong, but I was afraid that he might be right and decided to use the water-based urethane that he recommended. Since I had to buy more sandpaper, a stripping brush, a new back, and the extra polyurethane, I ended up spending a little more than I would've liked (which was nothing!) but I know that I can use everything again and I'll get my money back on future projects.
I wanted to wallpaper or paint the back piece in something eye-catching, but I couldn't find anything I liked and also realized that the person who bought the piece might not be interested in a green & white trellis background or a coordinating paint color! :( Maybe one day I'll be able to try it on a piece for myself . . .
Anyhow, I think I may need to invest in a nail gun, because I had several mishaps while try to nail the back panel on. As you can see, 2 nails came thru the bottom corner of the shelf, and 3 got bent when I was trying to nail them in the back. I thought I was going to have a heart attack, after I 'd done all of this hard work, but the holes can be easily fixed with paint . . . thank God.
And that was it! So my lessons for this project? 1) Take great care when nailing and, 2) photograph finished projects inside instead outside because they look sooooooooo much better!