But the Hoosier cabinet is done! I cannot tell you the kind of release I felt in finally finishing it and giving it its rightful place in my kitchen. I enjoyed the whole process immensely…er, uh…I enjoyed most of the process immensely, but by the last week of work I have to admit I was beyond weary with cleaning and painting and sanding. Getting it done and in my kitchen became an obsession with me and every little glitch and delay in my efforts played absolute havoc with my nerves.
Part of my frustration, I think, was that I knew very well I could have had the project done inside of a week if I’d had all my time to devote to it. But of course life always has its interruptions and its distractions. Mine are ages 9, 6, 4, and 2. But I digress.
One major delay came when my hands decided to stop working for a few days. I’m not exaggerating here to say that both hands cramped up on me so badly I was literally handicapped for a little while. Sanding was incredibly painful during that time, and I’m not just trying to evoke sympathy. A couple of weeks prior to this I had busted my fingertip with a hammer out in my garden. (And I mean busted. I heard it crack and everything, but it went untreated because, honestly, what is a doctor going to do about a cracked bone in your fingertip?) My finger had been giving me issues ever since that time, then my entire hand started cramping up on me, so my first overreactive thought was that surely some awful infection had set in and it was destroying my entire hand. One problem with that theory: it was happening to the other hand as well.
“It’s all that sanding you’ve been doing,” my wise husband suggested with a cool, I-told-you-so kind of compassion. “You should have borrowed your dad’s sander like I said.”
But while I love power tools as much as the next girl, I knew no power sander could distress my beloved Hoosier cabinet with the detailed precision of my own fingers. We’d just have to wait until my hands were fully functional again, which took three or four days.
I further prolonged my own aggravation by throwing a couple of other projects in the middle of this one. Here are some pictures of the end table I painted. My husband and I bought this table in Texas early in our marriage and I’ve always liked it, but as hunter green isn’t the popular color it once was, I decided to give it a facelift. The dark green was a perfect base color, so all it needed was a couple of coats of white paint. When those had dried I sanded it here and there to give it the distressed look I wanted and then added a couple coats of polyurethane. The green doesn’t show through as green, by the way. Almost any dark basecoat will work under white to look dark, not necessarily its respective color.
I have to say I don’t think this table turned out nearly as good as the other, primarily because there’s nothing vintage about its style. Distress furniture all you want; if the style ain’t right, it ain’t gonna look old. That’s the problem with this end table, I think, but I like it as well now as I did before. No, I like it better now that the 1990s hunter green is gone. (Although I think I should have painted the drawer knob. It looks like my end table has a nose, doesn’t it? My husband insists it’s fine and since I’m reeeeally weary of painting, I’m gonna take his word for it.)
As for the Hoosier cabinet, I needed a new floor for it and my dad had some board already and was kind enough to cut a piece to replace the one I’d pulled up. Originally I’d planned to leave the board on the very top in place, but the more Dad looked at it, the more convinced he was that the piece I’d pulled off the top was not a separate board, but a detached layer of the remaining one. Dad thought it would be better to replace the entire board and I knew he was right, so up it came. I do have the advantage of being daughter to a man who does some woodworking, so he also had wood glue and several clamps he could loan to me and I set to work tightening some loose joints and shoring up wobbly drawers.
My rolling door was in desperate need of repair. The bottom slat was detached completely and there were enough gaps in the others that it was very difficult to roll up and down. I tried to find an affordable fabric tape, but I finally gave up and resorted to white duct tape, which actually worked quite nicely. When I had used some of Dad’s paste wax on the coiled track, the door rolled up and down pretty easily.
I gave my Hoosier cabinet a coat of Powdered Snow inside and out, then all the parts that had been painted brown got a second coat. When that was done and dry, I could start the distressing.
It was pretty ironic, really: I was taking an old, worn cabinet, spending hours cleaning and sanding and painting so it would look, well, old and worn. But while I started with a dirty, broken, sloppily painted cabinet, I was ending up with a clean, sound, like-new one. I loved the distressed finish in the end and protected it with two coats of clear polyurethane.
I mentioned once before that all the hinges and handles had been painted over. (Oh, how I would love to haunt the people who decided that was a good idea!) I tried sanding the paint off, but I quickly realized my hands were going to be cramping like never before if I tried that for very long, so we resorted to paint stripper. I bought an aerosol can of it at Lowe’s for $6.28 and a 12-pack of steel wool for $2.97. It was simple to use–spray the hinges, wait 10 minutes, scrub with the steel wool, then repeat the process. The paint bubbled up like creamy foam and most of it came right off with just a few swipes with the steel wool. The hinges and handles still looked old and some were still slightly rusted, but I liked the look and decided not to clean them further.
When I had reattached the back to the top portion of the cabinet, it was time to put the now paint-free drawer handles, hinges, and pulls back on. I pulled out the power drill and went to work and then could start hanging the doors again. After a final wipedown we were ready to move it in the house.
Now most women would never have tried to move something like this until their husband was home to help, but my Hoosier cabinet was ready and there was no way on this good green earth I was gonna let it sit in my garage for possibly hours until my husband got home from work! I couldn’t move it alone, however, at least not without doing it some damage. That’s when I called upon my nine-year-old daughter, who, while she probably has even less brawn to offer than her ol’ Mom, is every bit as crazy and as willing to give something a try as I am!
In two pieces the cabinet was awkward, but not terribly heavy. I’m sure the two of us made quite a sight trying to get it out of the garage, across the yard, up the steps, and into the kitchen, but we managed and when I stacked the top on the enamel counter and pushed it up against the wall, seeing the finished product felt so good! I couldn’t help but pull out my cellphone and start texting pictures to friends.
I wish I’d logged the hours I spent working on my cabinet. There were many of them, believe you me, and like I said before, by the time I finished I almost felt like I couldn’t bear to work on it another day. But to look at my Hoosier cabinet now, to see the character it adds to my kitchen, to reap the benefits of the extra storage space it provides, I feel like every one of those hours was worth it.
Now in case you’ve forgotten, I bought this Hoosier cabinet at a yard sale for $30. I spent around $3 for sandpaper and $8 for a gallon of brown paint for my basecoat. I paid $22 for a gallon of white paint and $16 for clear polyurethane. The paint stripper for the drawer handles and pulls cost just over $6 and the steel wool was about $3. Add it all up and you’ll find I spent about $60 refinishing my cabinet. Keep in mind, however, that with the exception of my sandpaper, I have at least half of all these items left to use on other projects. In fact, I used only a tiny amount of the brown paint and only slightly more of the polyurethane. When you consider that, I guess you could say I actually spent less than $30 on my cabinet!
Regardless, I now have a beautiful Hoosier cabinet in my kitchen that cost me less than $100. That’s a steal! Not to mention the fact I have a piece of furniture I can be proud of; one I reworked with my own hands, one I’ll keep for years and hopefully pass down to my children someday.
Now I’m not looking for another project just yet, but I don’t think it’ll be long before I’m fully recovered and willing to tackle something else. Actually, there’s something waiting for me in the garage right now, but I’m done for the moment. I’m basking in the joy of my renewed Hoosier cabinet and I think the next project is just going to have to wait for a little while.