I was given this vintage, rusted metal trunk (for free) from one of my co-workers late last summer. He had it sitting around and, knowing him, the challenge this would have presented probably amused him. But I was up for it.
Or so I thought.
It was musty and smelly…
Did I mention rusty?
I did? Just making sure…
I started by giving it a good cleaning. To help with the rust, I used a citric acid/water paste. I had the citric acid left over from my soap making days. It’s good to
hoard keep things sometimes because it worked better than I imagined.
Can you see the difference? I just made a paste with citric acid and water, and scrubbed with a wire brush and steel wool.
Then I tackled the inside. It was…a chore. I may have cried a few tears of frustration. There was a wallpaper type lining in it that wanted to come off in teeny-tiny little pieces, even with multiple vinegar baths. Then I tackled it with multiple course grit sandings…power sanding and hand sanding. It was stubborn…very, very stubborn.
I pulled off the rotting leather straps, gave it another good cleaning and filled the larger dents and holes with Bondo.
Then I primed it with Rust-oleum Rusty Metal Primer so I could start painting.
I’m going to be honest and say this trunk probably has about six layers of paint because I kept trying different colors. I finally decided to use Sweet Pickins Milk Paint in Suitcase…fitting, right?
For the trim I used Rust-oleum Hammered Finish in Brown.
For those of you who have used milk paint, you know it can be…unpredictable. I’d read that before I tried it, but for this piece, I wanted that get-what-you-get unpredictability. The trunk was banged up and I knew a pristine paint finish just wouldn’t mesh with the banged-upped-ness (new word alert).
Sure enough, a few days after the final coat (and even after using Extra Bond on the first two layers) I had the start of a chippy finish.
After a few days, I put a coat of wax on it.
I couldn’t decide how to finish the inside. I liked the look of the wood, and I really didn’t want to line it with paper after I experienced first hand how difficult it can be to remove. I was thinking of some future generation DIY-er crying the same tears of frustration.
I considered fabric, but eventually decided to start with a wood stain. I figured I could always change it up later if I didn’t like it.
Here it is, finished (for now)…
I still need to replace the handles on the side.
It’s not perfect, and I knew it wouldn’t be, but I think I salvaged a few more years of life for this vintage trunk.