Friday, December 14, 2012

Where Did Burl Go?

 Where did burl go?  No not Burl Ives, famous for Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer, but the beautiful markings on the front of this stereo cabinet.  I found this last summer while in a garage sale slump.  Have you ever been in one of those slumps where you check out dozens of sales and can't find anything?  It gets pretty discouraging.   I was on my way back from yet another overpriced, uninteresting sale when I saw this sitting in a yard sale, that I almost drove by.  The neighborhood was a little dicey, but this piece seemed worth checking out.  I didn't realize what it was until I opened it up. 

It's a 1952 RCA Victor  stereo.  I thought at first that it would make a great bar (still think it would make a great bar), until I got it home and my husband wired it up.  The tubes and speaker still work, but the radio and turntable need some help.  It's for sale, so I thought I would just refinish it and let the buyer decide whether or not to fix the stereo, put some of their own electronics in it, or take everything out and use it as a bar.
My original plan was to remove the doors, and just refinish the outside of the cabinet.  As you can see the wood was in pretty bad condition.  So out came the stripper, and the project began.  I used a 3M non-toxic stripper that works pretty well, but I found getting the residue off can be a pain.  I got off as much as I could with the putty knife, then used paint thinner to clean more off, then sanded - a lot!  I used Minwax red mahogany stain and finished it with a couple of coats of their wipe on poly.  I loved the color, but now the doors looked dull.  My husband thought he could shine them up, so I let him go for it.  First he tried Howard's Restore a Finish in walnut, then put Howard's Feed-N-Wax over that.  It covered some of the scratches but still looked dull.  Then I tried some paste wax over that, nope that didn't do it either.  Then my husband rubbed baby oil all over everything.  Now we just had a dull, oily mess!  We finally figured the finish had clouded over the years and it would just have to be redone.  We both thought that the doors were a burled veneer, and that they could be stripped and refinished.  WRONG!  I taped off the RCA sticker on the inside and got to work with the stripper.  After letting it sit for 11/2 hours it was ready to putty off.  I almost cried after the first swipe.  The beautiful burl finish was faux and came right off.  Does anyone know how they made it look like this?  Well, in for a penny in for a pound.  So, many sheets of sandpaper later, more stain and poly and here it is.

My husband did a great job of buffing up the hardware.  We still disagree whether it should be a stereo cabinet or a bar, but my husband came up with an ingenious idea to help sell it.  He hooked up an old radio to the existing speaker and I tuned it in to a station that is playing all Christmas music.  I did put a sign on it saying where the music was coming from and what did and didn't work, so now the buyer can decide what to do with it.
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