Announcing..."As Luck Would Have It" -- the Website!

FINALLY! The "As Luck Would Have It" Website has launched! Now, in addition to the offerings at Home Store Manassas, my carefully edited collection of vintage treasures are available thru Be sure to check it out daily, as there are many more pieces of inventory to be posted. And tell ALL your friends, family, co-workers, strangers you meet in bars....Trust me, they'll thank you for it! At least I will...!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Back to School!

I hope it is indeed possible to teach an old dog new tricks…! I recently enrolled in a class taught by Arlington County Adult Ed, “Furniture Repair and Refinishing”. With all my vintage décor acquisition activities (especially Dumpster Diving and Trash Digging), I have quite a few furniture pieces that are in various states of disrepair and neglect. My goal is to become sufficiently trained so that I can begin refurbishing some such items, or at least learn just enough so that I can be a real pain to anyone whom I hire to do so!

The class is taught at the Arlington Career Center, in the carpentry department. This is actually a rather impressive facility; classes are regularly held there in woodworking, tiling, and even shed building! My furniture repair class is held Mondays and Wednesdays, 2 ½ hours each night for 4 weeks. There are six students in my class; each student brought in a piece of their own furniture as their project.

Last night was our first class. Our instructor, Paul, is an affable gentleman who admits to being a trash digger, too (I’m sure we’ll get along famously!). He actually passed along a ‘curb alert’ for a discarded rocking chair at the beginning of class! (He also told me about his collection of wooden casket trays that he acquires for free from funeral homes; he plans to use the lumber to build a shed. Not sure I’ll add those to my list of ‘must-haves’.) We spent the first half of class having the students introduce themselves, their furniture items, and project goals. It was fascinating to see what each person had brought, and the history associated with each item. My project is a small folding wooden table that I had acquired from Lord knows where years ago. It appears to date from the 1930s/40s, is made of pine (according to Paul), and has a removable blue plexiglass top. The finish is pretty distressed, and one of the legs is cracked near the top (a previous owner had used medical tape to secure it in place….Lovely!). This table actually resided in my basement den for the past three years, so even as-is it’s functional and rather charming (the medical tape repair is not immediately noticeable!). However, I thought it would be the perfect first project for me, since it needs both refinishing and repair.

After discussing my project with Paul, I decided that I want to try my hand at a black lacquer finish. Also, I hope to find a vintage piece of mirror to have cut for the top to replace the blue plexi. (I’ve discussed the project with my friend Diana; as an alternative to the mirror top, I’m considering a gold leaf reversed glass decoupage! Do you think that’d be a bit much? Oh, I hope so – too much is never enough!).

Another classmate, Janet, brought an Art Deco Lane cedar chest for her project. Offered to her by a friend, this is a wonderful piece; while the interior is in near pristine condition (and even has the original Lane labels!), the exterior has some veneer issues, especially around the top and bottom edges.

The second half of class was spent with the initial cleanup of our respective items. Paul instructed me to use water, then paint thinner, to clean the wood in prep for the lacquered finish. Janet is going to provide me with a ¼” dowel rod to use instead of the medical tape for repairing the cracked leg. (Interestingly, Paul said a bamboo chopstick is a good alternative to a wooden dowel!). I have a list of other supplies I need to gather for the next class, including a very fine bristle brush, steel wool (for lightly sanding the wood), and of course the lacquer itself.

Janet spent her time chipping away at the heavily damaged veneers on her trunk’s edges. I suggested she might consider edging the trunk in black lacquer (it’s all the rage!) to give it a high-Deco look.

It’ll be fun to see how each student approaches his or her project; I hope to have time to observe everyone as they tackle their respective challenges, and apply that knowledge to future projects. For now, just wish me luck on my little table, and stay tuned for updates from each class. Hopefully, the before-and-after pictures will show dramatic changes (for the better!).


  1. That sounds like a great project, Howard. How's your little table progressing? I presume you have many "diamonds in the rough" amongst your collection you could work your magic on, once you learned all the tricks.

  2. Not sure I'm cut out for furniture refinishing....Very tedious, and I have the attention span of a gnat! Scrape/sand/clean/paint/sand/clean/paint....AURGH! From now on, I may just have to pay someone instead!