I'm sure all antiques have their own story; this is my story about a small church pew makeover.
It took years to get to it and weeks to get it right. See all the ugly details below.
This pew was a surprise gift for my daughter Jamie many years ago. It's probably been 25 years; how is that possible? The pew resided in Jamie's dining room until she married and bought a second-hand mid-century modern dining table. The sweet little pew was then moved to the garage, where it got damaged in the first 100-year flood in Nashville (2010). When she and her husband moved into their new house in 2016, I took possession of the sad, damaged church pew. It was stored in my garage until I dug it out to give it new life for this month's Furniture Fixer Upper Tour.
It's Furniture Fixer Upper Day! Please visit my friends and tell them Gail sent you!
Steps to Restore a Small Church Pew
Some work needed to be done. But I was hopeful that I could restore its natural beauty, although, for a while, I regretted ever starting this project.
These small furniture dollies are a must-have when working alone with an awkwardly large piece of furniture.
Visit the My Repurposed Life Amazon Store to shop my favorite items.
Clean Old Furniture
I chose to scrub the wood with Krud Kutter and rinse the wooden furniture with the garden hose. It may seem odd that I used water to clean wood, but it will be fine if you do it quickly and allow it to dry thoroughly. I recommend doing this on a warm, sunny day.
Make Repairs to Broken Furniture
Gorilla Wood Glue is my go-to for repairing broken furniture. The boards on the side had separated over the years.
Carefully, I separated the joint even more so that I could apply the wood glue.
Clamps were used to hold the joint. Placing scrap wood under the clamp prevents it from making a divot in the church pew wood.
In this image, you can see all the clamps that were used to allow the Gorilla Wood Glue to set up.
Prep Wood For Paint or Stain
I needed to remove the shine and grime to prep the church pew for its new outfit. All In One Surface Prep is easy to use and does a great job. A chip brush is used to apply the liquid, and a cloth is used to wipe it off. There is no rinsing needed. If you have a lot of grime and dirt on your project, you can use a scrubby pad after applying and wiping it back with a cloth.
Using a Sanding Sponge on the Church Pew
A few areas needed some extra attention, requiring a sanding sponge. Don't forget to wipe away the dust from sanding.
How to Use Gel Stain
Gel stain is unique because you can apply it over an existing wood finish. I chose Dark Walnut. Things started well, but I had many issues getting the church pew to look exactly as I wanted.
The technique was using a chip brush to apply the gel stain, letting it set for a short time, and then wiping it off with a cloth.
This is where I should have stopped. I did three light coats, but I wasn't happy with the variation in the wood tones on the back of the church pew.
When Gel Stain Goes Wrong
In an attempt to blend the color, the church pew looked like it was painted instead of stained. See the top two images.
The bottom left image shows how the back of the pew looked after I sanded it. The image on the right is after two coats of gel stain. At this point, I stopped taking photos. I was leaning toward grabbing a paintbrush and painting it white.
Final Result of a Restored Church Pew
The church pew is far from perfect, but the old gal has some age on her for sure.
Related Content: Restoring an Antique Pew Chair
Furniture Fixer Upper Tour Below
Now it's time to visit my friends. We welcome a new friend, Natalie Dayton, from Ray of Sunlight this month!
- A Ray of Sunlight Hutch
- Antique Pew Makeover (You are here, thank you.)
- Painted Hutch Using Silk Mineral Paint
- Desk With Antique Chalk Finish (Caviar)
- Decoupage Art on Wood Nightstands
Gail Wilson is the author and mastermind behind My Repurposed Life. She is obsessed with finding potential in unexpected places and believes that with a little hard work and imagination, any old thing can be made useful again, including herself!
Gail reinvented herself during a midlife crisis and has found purpose again. She hopes you will find new ideas for old things and pick up a few tools along the way.