Phonograph flip

Another long overdue project is finally complete at the Toburen house! I’m trying to use the little bit of summer I have left to finish up some unfinished projects (in my book, summer isn’t over until September!) Most recently, I redid this 1948 Truetone phonograph/radio cabinet that we bought 2 years ago for $30 on Craigslist.

It wasn’t quite as orangey looking as in that picture, and we really didn’t mind the colors until I redid this chair for my desk with a kelly green fabric.

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The greens definitely didn’t go together, so it was high time for something a little more neutral…and updated. First, I reglued a few pieces of veneer that had fallen off using wood glue and mini clamps, though we didn’t have all the missing veneer.

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Then I filled the missing spaces and cracks with spackle (I use Sherwin Williams shrink-free spackling), sanded, filled, and sanded again. It’s not perfect, but it’s way better than bare wood spots!

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I lightly scuff sanded the whole thing and wiped it down with TSP substitute. I liked the antiqued finish and hoped to recreate that, just with a different paint color underneath.

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I mixed up a few mess-up paint colors to create a warm grey/greige that I liked, made it into chalk paint (here’s my diy version), and applied two coats with a natural bristle brush. I wanted to have  few brush marks here and there to hold the wax.

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After applying a coat of Johnson’s clear wax, buffing, and letting it dry, it was time for the dark wax! My first dark wax project was really frustrating! I found the wax hard to work with and it changed the color of the piece significantly. I still thought the final result was super cute, but I didn’t want the wax to be quite as dark this time.

To lighten it, I mixed some Johnson’s clear wax into the Annie Sloan dark wax. (If you have Annie Sloan clear wax that works great, but Johnson’s is a good, cheap alternative! Minwax isn’t as soft so it doesn’t mix with the dark wax very well.)

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Then I applied the wax with a stiff Varathane paint brush. (Again, too cheap to buy the Annie Sloan wax brushes!)

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All the tutorials say to brush it on and keep brushing until there’s no extra and/or to wipe off the extra with a rag. I tried this on my last piece, and the dark wax would get so sticky after too much brushing! Tutorials all warn about this, but by the time I got the whole area covered with the goopy wax and tried to remove extra, certain parts had already started to try. Then when I went to wipe it off, any area that was slightly wet would get on the rag and take off wax from any dry areas. It was super frustrating! So I tried doing things a little differently this time.

The clear wax mixed with the dark definitely went on smoother and I didn’t feel the need to wipe off so much since it wasn’t as dark. I worked on one section at a time, brushing out any extra wax until that section was covered. (In the picture below, the top is still bare and the edges have been waxed.)

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I didn’t want circles, so I just did straight strokes. After the whole thing was covered, I let it dry completely (about an hour) and then buffed it with a clean rag. This process was so much easier and turned out exactly how I wanted!

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It certainly wasn’t as streaky as the piece was before, but the wax still deepened the color and gave it an aged look.

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You can see the effect of the wax a little better in this picture.

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Next step, the fabric panels! The wooden panels are a bit too thin to staple the fabric around them, so I decided to use Mod Podge to glue the fabric down.

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I just used plain old canvas drop cloths from Lowe’s, so the fabric basically cost me nothing. (I bought it for this Christmas project). The original fabric was glued down (the previous was stapled, but you could see all the stapled and rough edges of the fabric on the inside of the door), so I just glued the new fabric to it, leaving a space for the speaker, of course.

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I cut off the excess fabric around the edges after the panels dried, and then Andrew re-installed them using our awesome electric staple gun!

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We put the hardware back on and voilà! It’s like a whole new piece of furniture!

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I decided to leave the hardware as is because I want to preserve some of the original character of the piece. I really love a good patina on my hardware!

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I think the canvas was a great choice for this. Not only is it super cheap and very neutral, but in person it also has a nice texture so the piece doesn’t look too flat and blah. Plus, it’s not so different from what the cabinet originally had (see gluing picture above), just not quite as tan.

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I’m really pleased with how this turned out! Andrew likes it, too, but was surprised, apparently. He kept commenting on how cute it was and how he didn’t realize it could look so good!

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Not sure if that means he hated it before? But oh well, it’s cute now!

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And it looks a lot better with our new front door color, too! Before, the yellow fabric, green cabinet, and “Biscay” door was a strange combo…

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Now, it’s neutral and doesn’t take away from the bright door or call as much attention to the yellow wood floors.

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We still haven’t tried to replace the burnt-out fuse because even if we could get it to work again, the fuses get really hot and we don’t want to risk a fire! The cord needs to be replaced, too, cause some of the wires are exposed, so we’ve pretty much decided it’s not worth trying to fix the existing components.

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Some day, though, we would love to retrofit the cabinet with a new record player, speaker, and all new wiring so we could safely listen to records! We’ll see if that day ever comes.

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Until then, it can just look cute and serve as a place to hold keys and purses…and the occasional fluffy cat, of course.

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