15 Feb

Preparing Furniture for Flipping

Earlier this morning I got a message from a friend asking how to strip and stain a rocker she found curbside. She’s wanting to redo the chair as a gift for her soon-to-be-born grandchild’s nursery. The baby is due in April. Here’s a photo of what she’ll be working with:

free chair from curb

All in all I’d say it’s a pretty great find – definitely something I’d have swung over to the side of the road and chucked in the back of my SUV. The structure appears to be sound, it’s not missing any rungs or spindles and the lines on the arms and back are gorgeous.

Sure, the upholstery has seen better days and the finish is worn away but hey, it was free.

So, Gloria asked “What is the easiest way / product to strip a chair?”

When I zoomed in to check the condition of the finish things got hairy.

fuzzy spindles

Like, I literally saw hair on the wood.

Without knowing what the former owner had done I can only speculate that either this chair back had previously been padded and upholstered or it sat in a chicken coop. I can’t be certain. Either way the wood was sticky and it wound up feathered.

Gloria had already attempted to clean up the chair top with acetone and a wimpy stripper. While the furry gunk did eventually come off, at that rate it was working the kid would be walking before she finished. So, she turned to me for help.

Getting Ready to Get Ready to Refinish

Any time I prepare a piece of furniture to be made-over (regardless if its real wood or fake and whether I plan to paint or stain it) I always, always, always start with a good cleaning and let it air dry. Even if the very next step would be to strip the existing finish, removing as much dirt and debris first is the way to go.

Think about it, when you go to the salon for a haircut or highlight what’s the very first thing they do? Exactly.

For Glo’s chair I told her to grab some 000 steel wool, dip that into mineral spirits and wipe the entire thing down along the grain. Steel wool can and will gouge the wood so it’s important not to cause unnecessary work for yourself. Next, she’s going to want to use real chemicals to remove the tar and feathers.

Now listen, I’m all for being eco-friendly and kind to your 5 senses however, I also want the time I spend working on a furniture flip to be productive. That’s why my go-to get-all-the-previous-lord-only-knows-what-the-hell-someone-else-decided-to-cover-this-wood-with-crap-off concoction is Zinsser® StripFast Power Stripper. Yes, it stinks and yes, it burns BUT it works. Just cover your nose and mouth and hands and you’ll be fine.

Undressed Wood – The Right Way to Strip

Shake up the stripper and pour it into a glass container (salsa jars work great) so you can easily dip your chip brush in. Brush it on to the wood thick-ly in small 12″ x 12″ sections. The tendency will be to pour and spread over a large area but I’m telling you not to. After the existing finish bubbles up and breaks apart it will take much longer to scrape off than you think. And while you’re scraping over here the chemicals will keep reacting over there and then dry out completely. You’ll have to start over and that’s a waste of product, time and money.

Speaking of scraping, there are different types of scrapers to choose from – nylon, plastic, metal. I’m sure they all have their pros/cons so it’s really your call which you use. Personally, I prefer my Pampered Chef pan scrapers over anything else. They are easy to hold, easy to clean and never gouge my wood.

Whatever you use, be sure to have a plastic grocery bag handy so you have somewhere to scrape the gunk off in to. And because you really want to learn from my mistakes, go ahead and soak a rag with mineral spirits now. That way, if you do happen to get the super goo on your skin, you can wipe it off before it really starts to burn.

Once you’ve worked a large enough area clean, wipe it down with mineral spirits to stop the chemical reaction (use a different rag than I mentioned having on hand earlier). Keep going until everything you wanted stripped is stripped. Depending how many layers of life a piece had, it might take more than one pass to get it all removed.

Now take a break, grab a beverage and let the wood air dry for a while before coming back with 220-grit sandpaper.

Then, going along the grain, sand the wood to open it up in preparation for new stain/paint. Afterwards, I vacuum the dust off with my shop-vac. You can also brush it off with a dust brush and wipe with a tack cloth. DIY Tip: You don’t have to spend money on tack cloths. Instead, use old socks or t-shirts sprayed with adhesive tack spray. However you choose to do it, you’ll need to get the crud out of the nooks and crannies so the new finish has somewhere to go. Not doing so is equal to adding water to dirt to get mud…and that’s probably not the look you are going for.

From here there are different ways to proceed depending on your plan for your piece of furniture. Since Gloria wants to stain her rocking chair that’s the tutorial I’ll be working on next. Be sure to check back for updates and let me know if you have anything to add from your own furniture-flipping experiences.

30 Jun

DIY Fold-up Paint Booth Tutorial

How to build a paint booth

Material & Tool List Paint Booth

Step 1 – Build Your Walls

Lay out the 1×8 boards horizontally and place the 1×6 boards at evenly spaced intervals. Secure with screws (pre-drill to prevent splitting). Use a carpenter’s square (or square block of wood) to keep boards level and place scrap wood underneath for support. On one of the walls (side wall) install a 1×8 board across at center for added support. (Later you’ll see that I added handles to make it easier to move.)

Paint Booth Walls

Step 2 – Frame Out Filter Pocket

Measure the height of your table / stand and mark the position of the bottom of the filter pocket accordingly.

Paint Booth Filter Pocket

Install a 1×4 board cut to length flat across the bottom between the vertical boards (A). Measure up 20″ from the bottom board to install the top boards (turned sideways) on the front and back sides of the filter frame (B). Then measure, cut and install 1×2 trim pieces to frame out and support the filter opening (C).

Frame Filter Pocket

Step 3 – Add Wheels / Support Blocks

Paint Booth Wheels

Paint Booth Support

Step 4 – Secure & Install Back Wall

Paint Booth Support

Install 2×4 level to wall stud.

Folding Paint Booth Wall

Install hinges to support and booth wall.

Step 5 – Secure Side Wall

Paint Booth Fold Out Wall

Install safety latch eye hooks to easily line and attach side wall to back wall. Secure side wall to ceiling-mounted chain for added stability.

Paint Booth Wall

Step 6 – Cover Walls with Plastic Sheeting

Paint Booth Plastic Sheeting

Measure and cut sheeting to overlap wood sides for complete coverage. Secure with staples.

Paint Booth Plastic

Step 7 – Install Temporary Ceiling

Paint Booth Air Filter

Secure a white / clear tarp or plastic sheeting to be pulled over booth to contain airborne overspray.

Step 8 – Set Up Box Fan & Table

Paint Booth Ventilation

Place fan on table outside booth close to air filter. Face fan away to draw air out towards fresh air source.

Airflow Diagram for Paint Booth

Step 9 – Fold Up for Storage

Paint Booth Folded Up

(Notice the center board and added handles I mentioned adding earlier.)

Step 10 – Secure for Safety

Paint Booth Latch

Secure side wall to back wall (once folded up) with a safety-latch eye hook.

Paint Booth Latch

Install hook eyes and thread rope in a figure-8 style to secure side wall to support.

Project Notes: Take care not to stack or push anything up against the folded booth frame that would puncture the plastic or damage the wood. When the plastic sheeting is covered in paint overspray, swap it out for new plastic. Always clean up the floor after painting to prevent it from drying and causing a slip hazard. When possible, use a stand or sawhorses to elevate pieces to be painted. I like to use a small platform on wheels to make painting around a piece easier.

As always, follow proper safety protocol when working with paint and other toxic substances.

For the original project post and more photos click here – Color Inside the Lines

To receive an email when projects are posted please sign up below.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

16 Jan

How to Remove Wood Furniture Plugs

After a 6-hour struggle to decipher those horrendously written and illustrated instructions you’ve finally got that piece of furniture-in-a-box put together. Now, the very last step is to tap in those mushroom shaped wood furniture plugs.

Done. You let out a sigh. And grab a beer. Victory is yours.

Fast forward three years. Either you have decided it needs to be refinished or be set on the curb for some other sucker. Either way, there’s a very good chance your handiwork will need to be undone.

Before going at them with screwdrivers and chisels, try this simple trick to dislodge furniture plugs easily and avoid damaging the surrounding wood.

(video link)

If you’re fabricating or rebuilding your own creation the guys over at Woodworking.com have a great tutorial for DIY furniture plugs (a drill press is required).

28 Oct

How To Apply Paste Wax

In a previous post about tinting your own wax I included a video demonstrating how I go about waxing up a piece when I’m close to calling it done. Shortly after that post went live, I received a request to provide a transcript for those of you with limited connectivity and resources. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I took some video screen shots and transcribed my yammering. Then, I went back and cleaned it up a bit because it is now quite apparent that I am totes classier in written form than verbal. So, don’t try to match this up to the live cut verbatim – you will notice a few discrepancies.

Again, this is just the fast & dirty way I get the wax job done ’round here. There are many ways to skin a cat so take it and make it your own.

Applying Wax Tutorial

I take a clean white cloth made of cotton or something that doesn’t drop off a lot of lint and some Mixwax Finishing Paste. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or expensive. Any paste wax will do.

Applying Wax Step 1

Reach in and scoop some up into the cloth. You just need a small clump of it.

Applying Wax Step 2

Double up the cloth by rolling it once, then twice so you have two layers of it.

Applying Wax Step 3

Pinch it off to make a little ball with it. Then move over to the piece.

Applying Wax Step 4

This mirror has already been painted with Paint Minerals mixed with latex so technically its chalk painted. There are various types (of chalk paint) on the market or you can make your own.

Applying Wax Step 5

It’s got a chalky, dull finish and the wax is just going to seal it and spice it up a little bit.

Applying Wax Step 6

With your ball of wax, start rubbing in a circular motion all over the piece.

Applying Wax Step 7

You’ll see a sheen immediately deposited on to the wax. You can’t really get wax build-up because once you go back over to put more wax on you’re taking off whatever you have put down.

Applying Wax Step 8

Go through and rub the whole piece with wax. The wax starts to melt and gets kind of messy.

Applying Wax Step 9

Keep a clean rag handy and if necessary, fold your wax over a third time in the cotton rag.

Applying Wax Step 10

When you’re done, let it sit. I leave my projects to dry/cure overnight then come back the next day to buff the wax off.

Applying Wax Step 11

With a clean, cotton cloth apply medium pressure and polish the wood until you’ve removed any residual wax. If you put too much wax on to begin with, you’ll need to work a little harder to get the finished lustre you’re after. Next time, use less wax in your cloth. For super stubborn spots you can add a smidge of fresh wax and buff immediately to remove caked on wax.

If you were tardy to the party and missed the tute & vlog get caught up: DIY Dark Wax.

As always, if you need more info or want me to clarify you can always comment, send me an email or continue the conversation on the DeeConstructed Design Facebook page.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

28 Oct

Tint Your Own Furniture Wax

DIY Tinted Wax

On the heels of my alternative to chalk paint post re: my beloved mineral paint, I thought it would be a good idea to put together a quick blurb about the icing on the painted furniture cake – paste wax.

Yes, like chalk paint, there are many different options out there to seal and protect your labor of love. No, I have not tried them all – mainly because I’m cheap and more inclined to employ a tad more elbow grease to err on the side of pocket-book-friendly when it comes to time vs money. Plus, I like being able to run out for supplies as needed (and grab a coffee along the way). You just can’t do that with a lot of the other options since they require ordering and shipping and waiting – bah, my attention span has no patience for that – and there’s no coffee reward involved.

An unexpected benefit of opting for the ‘harder to work with kind’ is that I am rocking some svelte underarms these days, just saying.

Anyhow, early on I heard that sealing certain paint colors with clear paste wax can/will result in the tint yellowing over time. I’ve not personally experienced this (because I poly anything I paint white and then wax if needed) but enough of the ‘pros’ have warned against it that I take heed. The general recommendation is to use a tinted wax as an alternative but my local Menards only stocks the clear kind.

So what is a furniture flipper to do?

DIY Tinted Wax

Do it yourself of course.

DIY Dark Wax Supplies

Grab a glass jar and scoop a spoonful or two of the clear solid paste wax into it.

Step 1: Put wax in jar in water

Then, fill a pot with water and place the glass jar inside over medium high heat. Bring to a slight boil.

Step 2: Melt wax

Next, open the windows and turn on the overhead exhaust while the wax melts down (this will only take a few minutes). Trust me on this one or you, too, will have a cranky, sensitive-nosed spouse asking what in the hell you did to stink up the place, again. (I don’t mind the smell or maybe I’m just immune.)

Step 3: Add stain

Once melted, remove the jar from the water (don’t forget to use a mitt – it will be hot!) and place on a heat-safe surface.

Step 4: Let cool to harden

Immediately spoon-in a couple scoops of stain (I prefer oil-based to water-based stain but either will do) and swirl the jar around to mix with the melted wax. Set it off to the side and finish up your painting and distressing while it cools and hardens.

Step 5: Let wax solidify

Banzai! Now you’re ready to wax.

Wait. What’s that? You’re not sure how to wax over mineral paint?

No problem – I’ll show you!

(Note: The wax applied in this video is clear, not tinted. However, on my dog bed redo there’s a noticeable color change from DIY Tinted Wax.)

Now, typically I will let my piece cure for a day and then re-wax for added durability. I instruct all my clients not to use Pledge or other polishing sprays on my pieces. A weekly rubdown with a microfiber cloth (Norwex is my pick) will keep the wax buffed up and looking pretty.

Remember though, that while wax is meant to produce a fine furnishings finish it’s not practical for use on high-traffic items. It won’t provide much protection against water/moisture and will require reapplication over time. So, don’t go waxing up your dining room table unless you’ve poly’d it first okay grasshopper?

“Man who catch fly with chopstick accomplish anything.”  – Mr. Miyagi.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


22 Oct

Mineral Paint (the chalk paint alternative)

DIY Chalk Paint Alternative


The internet is a buzz with various options for DIY Chalk Paint. Bloggers have compiled, tested and reported back on their preferred methods.

Here is a rundown on the best homemade chalk paint recipes. Most often, these domestic creations are pitted against professional brands (i.e., CeCe Caldwell, Annie Sloan) and the pros taut eco-safe ingredient lists they aren’t exactly light on the purse strings. Plus, they have limited color selections and the nearest distributor 80 miles away. Needless to say, I’ve never considered making the investment.

So when I did decide to throw my paintbrush in the chalk paint ring, I ran with my own variation of a DIY recipe. And by that, I mean I mixed it completely ass backwards. Remember when I was laid up with that sinus infection and taught you all how not to chalk paint? Apparently, the main ingredient in the version I chose (and what puts the chalk in chalk paint) is toxic. Typical.

Shortly after that hot mess, I received an email from an Esty shop owner asking if I had heard of a powder you add to your paint to give it the smooth, primer-and-prep-free consistency people were willing to shell out the big bucks for. Um, no?! I was more than happy to give her my address so she could send me over some to try.

Now, I don’t pretend to understand the science behind what my new BFF over at Paint Minerals does. All I know is that when I added tap water to her powder, mixed it and then added it to the paint color of my choice I didn’t wind up in the doctor’s office filling a prescription. And that wasn’t just a fluke, my friends. I’ve actually used PM on more than a few projects lately and even when I ignore the recommendation to use flat latex paint or forget to use an actual tablespoon to measure, the paint mixes up and spreads on effortlessly. And the best part? My brush isn’t hardening up halfway through the first coat. Nope, I’m not running back to the sink to thin out a cakey mess of paint.

Actually, as I painted up my mom’s Plain Jane wardrobe I didn’t rinse out my brush until I was done. For three days that Purdy was full of paint (wrapped in a plastic bag overnight) and ready to go every time I needed her. This concoction even spreads out beautifully using a foam roller. And when it was time to clean up, both my brush and roller rinsed out easily with generic dish soap and water.

So how exactly do you use the magic white stuff? Allow me to demonstrate!

Step 1 Paint Minerals

First, grab a container and add (2) tablespoons of warm tap water.

I scored an old metal ice tray from my pops last weekend and it was the perfect size for both brush and roller.

Then, spoon in (2) tablespoons of Paint Minerals. Mix well.

When I am at home I like to whip it all up with a fancy Pampered Chef mini-whipper because that’s the only time it actually gets used but hanging at the P’s I had to rough-it and used a paint stick. It worked just as well.

When you slop some of it over the sides on to the counter, table and floor just wipe it up with your sleeve. A paper towel works well too but know that it doesn’t stain clothing or carpeting. I’ve tested this for you already.

Step 2 Add Paint

Ok, now grab that tablespoon and add (2) scoops of your paint.

The directions say it will yield ‘amazing paint that needs no sanding or priming’ when added to flat latex but I’ve honestly added PM to satin and eggshell finishes and haven’t noticed a difference in consistency.

Every time the paint rolls on like silk and sands to a super smooth finish.

Make sure to mix the paint in well with the water/mineral base until you’ve got a creamy texture (think yogurt or pudding).

And paint!

That’s really all there is to it.

Step 3 Mix

Over on the Paint Minerals website there are recipes for other uses and applications but so far, painting wood is all I’ve experimented with. When the half bag I have left is gone, I do plan to pick up the bulk pack because honestly, I just can’t see ever going back to the old way of painting again.

And at less than $12/gallon I’m going to be able to paint a whole lot of stuff with cash to spare.

You can get this magic mineral powder at Paint Mineral’s Etsy store. Or, peruse the plethora of crap in my shop begging to be made over and I’ll do the work! (assuming you’re local unless you’d drive to WI for pick up)

And just cause I like ya, I made up a print ‘n keep recipe sheet.

How to Make Mineral Paint