We’ve all been there. A few years ago I lost an old “family” Aunt back in New Jersey. She was a girl friend of my mother and I knew her all of my life. “Aunt” Marge and “Uncle” Harry loved to cruise the world and teach crafts on the ships in exchange for passage, room and board. Not a bad way to spend your retirement years. Harry died back in 1990 and Marge passed away just a few years ago.
As she had no family to speak of, I was asked to help clear out the house. The house was like a time warp. It was always 1955 when you walked in and sat down. It was comfortable feeling. The house smelled old with oriental rugs and things hung on the wall that when you finally removed them the wallpaper still looked new under it.
It was hard packing up all these fond memories. When the main level of the house was cleared, it was time to go into the garage, up those old pull down stairs, you know the type, and climb up into the world of all forgotten things. There I found steamer trunks from the 1920’s along with lamps, books and other items that have collected dust over the years since it was probably put there when they moved into the house in 1952. Slowly things were lowered down and an isle was cleared.
Way back in the corner under a sheet I found this old Lane cedar chest, still giving out that wonderful aromatic smell that us woodworkers love so much.
When I opened it, hoping to find a lost treasure or a map to some mysterious location where I could find one, it was empty except for and old parchment “instruction” sheet explaining the virtues of female moth eggs. I started to read it, laughed and then decided it was time to put it in my truck and bring it home. The chest, after all, was the real treasure all unto itself. I had to refinish this piece!
I wish I could have shown you a picture of the “before” condition but that was before we started this “blog” thing. I was amazed to find that under the “dirt”, there was a beautiful inlay design on the lid and on the front corner, accent pieces.
So, summer came and I tackled this job with loving care thinking of my Aunt and Uncle with every pass of sandpaper and brush stroke of polyurethane. I used Murphy Oil Soap to first clean the old chest and then used Citristrip Stripper/Wash to remove the old finish, or what was left of it. The wood was really in great shape. After touching up the inlays, I selected a satin polyurethane finish and gave it 3 loving coats.
The chest now sits proudly at the foot of one of our guest beds. I wish that old Aunt Marge could see what I had accomplished. I wonder what she used to put in it. I open the chest and it is empty, or maybe not. It is full of wonderful memories of my childhood and Aunt Marge and Uncle Harry.
Anyone out there have any idea how old this chest is?