Church Pew Redo
Let's get started on the redo. DIY Ladies, this will be totally doable on your own, except for moving the pew, as oak anything weighs a ton.
The pew was sound, but I reinforced the legs by pre-drilling holes and inserting deck screws and wood glue from the inside out to keep the wood from splitting at the seams. I drilled a series of holes for drainage in the rear of the seat.
It's wise to use a mask and gloves when working on old finishes, many before the seventies contained lead and other harmful substances. Chipping paint, while a romantic 'shabby chic'
look, is a true hazard to a curious toddler.
After a vigorous scrubbing with Murphy's wood soap and hot water, I scraped and then I orbital sanded with 60 grit to remove all the loose paint layers and even out the finish. The shop vac and a damp cloth removed all traces of dust and debris. The surface is finally ready. Tip: remember to wear a mask when emptying your vac and change the filter before using it again.
I applied two sparse coats of Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane-clear semi-gloss (indoor/outdoor) varnish. We intend to use this on the back deck for extra seating--so much nicer than tripping over folding chair legs.
Ready for sealing.
The Helmsman varnish is very runny, and needs to applied quickly in thin coats. I used sponge brushes (not recommended on the label) to avoid carrying too much varnish on the tilted surfaces. Sponge brushes help to soak up excesses instead of pushing it around. I had no significant deterioration of the sponges, other than normal wear from an irregular surface. I used two sponge brushes for the two coats. They don't last long, but I save the handles to use as dowels for other projects.
Some drips occurred, but this can be brushed out in the next coat. I only waited two hours between coats, as it was a very warm and low humidity. After curing the two coats for a week, the finish is very tight and very shiny.
Waterproofing the legs
Tip: Weather proof the legs by submerging the wood into large oil drain pans of Cabot's Wood Toned Deck and Siding Stain, 19200 Natural. This soaked in nicely and used almost a full quart of stain/sealer. This project will be on a raised deck, but this step is absolutely necessary for furniture in contact with dirt or grass.
This is just one of a history of marriage challenges between a pocket-protector husband and an artist wife, LOL.
PS: After a month the finish has mellowed and the shine has gone way down.
I can't wait to use it every day, come join me for a cup of your favorite!
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