Finished Trunk!

Thanks again to all the Healthy Heart participants!  I apologize for the picture heavy post below… well, not really apologize. I’ll just say it is a picture heavy post.

The Lady has been finished!  This was the second trunk I purchased. I haven’t done anything with the first one yet because it is in good shape and I actually am using it in my practice room… and I got a third one.  

First off, I have to say that this is probably one of the most interesting projects I have done to date. I think a lot of that comes just from what a unique item it is.  Pretty much everything about this restoration was new to me. This trunk probably was from the 1880s based on the barrel stave design and the trunk maker (J. Levy). Anyway, here are some before shots of the trunk.








One thing about this trunk is that it smelled of mothballs on the inside, along with must. Peee-ew!! A lot of the mothball smell came from the pressboard cover on the tray and lid, plus the paper coating inside. Those were damaged beyond repair anyway, so they just went away (although I kept the lithographs).

To restore this trunk, I used a spritz of water and vinegar to remove the paper covering inside and out. The glue they used eons ago was water based, so this made removal fairly easy. Then I sanded down the wood and used wet sandpaper to sand off as much rust as I could from the hardware. It’s amazing how much better it looked just doing that. And smelled better.


I used Rustoleum flat black enamel to paint the hardware with a small paintbrush.  Then I coated the inside and outside with Waterlox (including the hardware). I wanted a satin sheen on this and I still had Waterlox leftover from doing the counters, so it’s a win all around!

 I chose to line the trunk because the wood was a little rough despite the sanding and I wanted whomever has this to be able to use it for storage – not to mention just protect this very old wood. I talked about lining it in this post, so I won’t repeat that here.

The lithographs took some work to save. It was a lesson in patience, let me tell you. It was soaking with water and gently and slowly peeling it off the old pressboard.


I wasn’t even sure I would be able to save them, but I did and that made me happy to be able to keep that original part. I dried them out in paper towels squished in books. Not sure if that is how the pros do it, but it worked pretty well.

The hardest thing on the whole trunk? The darn handles! I had the original hardware, but needed new straps. Of course, fitting modern straps into old hardware was a challenge, but so was attaching the handles to the box. I had to buy special nails of softer steel so that I could hammer them in and bend them over on the inside – like what was done when the trunk was made. Can’t do that with modern nails. Anyway, there are a few companies dedicated to parts for restoring trunks (because of course there would be, right?). I used Brettuns Village and was very happy with their service.


Here is the finished product:

1880s trunk


1880s trunk



I mentioned on FB that I love how this still looks old, but now it doesn’t look decrepit and it can have a long and useful life instead of moldering in someones attic.

I am getting a lot of nice feedback on her from my vintage groups. I have had a nibble on someone wanting to purchase it, but we shall see.  I hope it sells as I now have another one to work on! 😀

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18 thoughts on “Finished Trunk!

    1. Lori Post author

      Is this where I admit to never seeing all of Titanic? I am probably the only person in the world who hasn’t seen the whole movie.

  1. Kathy W.

    That looks fantastic! If it had had a flat top, it would also have made a great cocktail table (with storage for remotes, etc.). Hope you sell it for big $$!

    1. Lori Post author

      Thanks! I am on the lookout for a flat top one that we can use as a coffee table, but I keep finding the barrel staves and round tops 😀

  2. L

    If trunks could give hugs, you’d be wrapped in wood and lithography right now. She looks GREAT, Lori. Awesome job!

  3. Roz@weightingfor50

    THAT IS BEAUTIFUL!!!! YES, CAPS ARE NEEDED FOR THAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂 OMG…Pixie IN the trunk is HILARIOUS!!!! What a model! With a very very fluffy tail!!! AWWW! I guess I haven’t paid attention to her tail before, but wow…it’s FLUFFY!!! She’s so gorgeous!!
    Roz@weightingfor50´s last blog post ..Special Dinner Guest

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