Today I have a special guest blogger- my business parter, my inspiration, my support, and my ever so handsome husband, Jordan! My birthday was earlier this month, and to be honest, I struggled a little... I do not want to grow up!! So Jordan went out of his way to make my birthday extra special this year. One of my many gifts was an awesome cart that he restored for me. After sharing it on instagram we got a lot of questions about it, so Jordan is here to fill you in on the details!
P.S all photos are not so great phone photos... sorry!
I am so thankful for all of the positive feedback we got after posting our new coffee table, so I thought I’d share with you all the restoration of this antique cart!
First off, I did a lot of searching online to find the perfect cart at the perfect cost (hint: everyone tries to sell them for so much more than their worth). After about two weeks of research I found a guy that had not one, but almost a dozen carts for sale… And he was willing to sell me one for $150. That might sound like a lot, but since these carts can go for upwards of $1200 online, I was happy to take it off his hands. After packing it in the truck, I was on my way back with an antique cart, with 2 months to go till Nicoles birthday!
Fortunately, my cart was in pretty good condition and was relatively clean, but I am told that pressure washing is a good way to start the restoration if you are not as lucky as I was. The next step is disassembly. This is an often overlooked step, but really is a must in my book. The good news is that all of the bolts, nuts, and washers are the same size and can be interchanged or replaced in case you find one missing.
Once everything is disassembled, youll have two big projects – the wood, and the metal. I chose to tackle the metal restoration first because (as a metallurgical engineer) it was the most exciting- as well as the bigger hurdle. Once all the pieces were removed, you could see just how much rust there was.
After browsing online for de-rusting procedures, I found out that the only really good way to remove rust is either to convert it or remove it with electrolysis…
Being a good engineer who likes fancy words, I gave the electrolysis a shot in my lab. If you’ve never heard of this before, its basically electroplating in reverse and it takes the rust right off your metal. The only downside is that it takes some nasty and dangerous chemicals (sodium hydroxide in my case) and leaves you with a bunch of nasty stuff. Yuck.
Although it worked, I decided my ambitions were a bit to high, so I used “Naval jelly” on the remaining metal parts. This stuff is awesome, cheap, easy to use, and creates a dull grey surface you can sand off, or coat over (I’ll talk about this in a bit). After slathering it on all the bolts, brackets, wheels, bearings, and rods, I was pretty much done. I went ahead and did a few more coats of the stuff on the exposed surfaces like the wheels and outer brackets just for good measure.
After I let to goo do its thing, I washed it off, gave it a little scrub, and then left it to dry completely.
The last step was to seal the iron to prevent it from rusting in the future. THIS WAS A PAIN. It turns out that most people who do this either a) have access to a commericial sand blaster or b) just paint over the rust. Since I have no sand blaster, and chose to remove the rust properly, neither of those were an option. So to finish off the metal, I settled with pure linseed oil, which can penetrate the iron and steel after multiple coats, giving a slight sheen to the surface of the metal. Most importantly to me, it soaked into the metal making it appear darker, and will protect it in the future. Bingo.
The wood finishing was pretty straightforward. I wanted to keep a lot of the character in the cart itself, so I opted for a very quick pass with 60 grit sandpaper (top, sides, and bottom) and finished with 120 and 220 grit papers on the top and sides. This left a silky smooth surface that I felt would be perfect for bare feet and coffee :)
I also applied (liberally) 2 coats of pure linseed oil to the surface and 1 coat to the sides of the cart as a finish. The linseed oil soaks into the wood and seals the finish, but needs to be reapplied over time. It’s kind of nasty to deal with (its like vegetable oil but turns sticky when it dries) so I would definitely recommend gloves.
After reassembling, I was more than impressed with how well the linseed oil finished the iron and wood. The iron was resorted to its former deep black color, while the wood kept its worn appear, but was warm and soft at the same time.
And here it is finished in our home! We love having this cart as a coffee table... it adds that little extra bit of character, and warmth to the space! And obviously wiggle butt Lexi needed to photobomb.
So what do you think of our restoration? Have any tips you would like to share, or your own restoration success story? We would love to hear it!
x0 Nicole AND Jordan!