Years ago I bought a simple second-hand bookcase I liked the shape of. At some point I decided it was a bit tatty and thought I’d strip it back and put on a fresh coat of polyurethane.
I started sanding by hand and with a small sander I now realise was the wrong tool for the job and then took a break of several years.
The bookcase was still being used and gathered up a few extra stains along the way.
Recently though I decided to finish it, and thanks to a couple of new sanders: a detail sander and a random orbital sander, and some YouTube How-To videos I’ve finally finished.
Here’s the partly sanded bookcase.
Once I’d sanded it I had to think about how to finish it off. I’d originally intended to use polyurethane, but I’d bought a can of tung oil for some barstools I’m working on. The one barstool I’ve nearly finished hasn’t come out terribly well, probably thanks to my inexperience, but I do prefer oil to polyurethane. It’s much more pleasant to work with. I decided to go with that.
The moment I applied the first swipe of oil I was thrilled. The wood looked absolutely gorgeous — darker than I’d imagined — but rich and vibrant.
I had to apply more coats than I’d thought I would, and in fact another coat or two should go on, but I’ve had enough, and the bookshelf looks great. You have to scrutinise it in just the right light to see the remaining ‘problem’ areas.
Initially I applied the oil with a soft cloth, then after letting it dry for a day or two or more I’d wipe it down gently with a 0000 pad. The last couple of coats I did by using the 0000 pad to apply the oil, and I might try that technique for the second barstool I have yet to do.
The bookcase is now in place in our newly completed little beach house below a photo I took of fungi on the beach. The photo was printed on canvas by Photobox and is itself very vibrant and luminous. The two items together look fabulous, and now I just need to work out what to put on the bookcase. I’ve added a couple of shells and a small piece of driftwood so far. I’m sure it’ll take shape eventually.