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Tips from Old Millrat - James D. Thompson


Vintage Ice Box Restoration

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One of my hobbies is the restoration of antiques. I have been doing this for more than 10 years, strictly as a hobby. I do not sell anything.

My wife finds old things in bad condition for low prices and I restore them to nice condition. This gives me something to do, it makes my wife happy, and the resulting pieces have considerably more value than they did before I got them. This is a win-win situation.

I have just completed a 1923 vintage ice box made of oak. It looks exactly like the one I remember in my motherís kitchen back in the 1940ís.

Here is a picture of it when I brought it home. We had to pay $75 for this†raggedy looking thing.

It had been painted white, and then some industrious soul had decided to refinish it, but was not up to the task.† Unfortunately they had used sandpaper, which is a no-no on antiques because it destroys any patina that might have been on the piece. But now I had no choice but to follow what had been started.

One of my favorite tools for working heavy objects like this ice box is a hydraulic lift table that I got from an auto supply house.† It really saves my back!

Here is a picture of the back of the icebox.

I used a cabinet scraper to remove most of the paint. I reserved the sandpaper for a final cleanup of the surface. Notice the dental tool in the picture. I use that to remove any paint that remains in a hole or crack.

Once the old finish had been completely removed, I gave all the wood surfaces as many coats of Boiled Linseed Oil as the wood could absorb. Then I waited a couple of days for that linseed oil to cure.

Learn how. Discover why. Build better.
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