Too Much Junk In This Victorian Trunk

I would like to take a moment to welcome you to Hooch and Home. At Hooch and Home we attempt home projects on a budget. After the power tools have been put away, we reward ourselves with a cocktail. And what better way to get creative and discover new cocktails than to let our home improvements guide the way. Each cocktail will correspond with the project in some way shape or form. So without further ado…


After my parents had an expensive episode with cashmere eating moths, I decided I wanted something safe to keep my sweaters in. I have always loved the idea of having an old trunk to keep sweaters and blankets in, so I began the delicious marathon, that tantalizing hunt, that…ok, you get it.  I was looking for the perfect trunk. I kept my eyes peeled, and visited the Philadelphia Flea Market several times before I came across this lovely lady: IMG_1693

She was a bit of a mess inside, but the owner said that it was rare to find a trunk this old that did not come with complimentary undesirable odors. We haggled a bit and it was ours for $60. The trunk had originally be covered inside and out with decorative paper. In this view of the top you can see how most of the paper had been worn or chipped away: IMG_1694 The man who sold it to us recommended using a soft bristle brush to clean off bits that were already peeling off.  THIS WAS A BAD IDEA but alls well that ends well. I did some research about trunk restoration before I headed off to Home Depot to buy the necessaries. The Brettuns Village Trunk Shop‘s Website proved to be most useful and I recommend it.


Project Goals: Step 1: Strip the dirty paper from the inside of the body of the trunk  Step 2: Line the trunk with cedar panels Step 3: Seal the paper on the inside lid of the trunk to protect it from further aging and to protect the clothes inside the trunk from any lingering antique odors clinging to the paper Step 4: Clean up the outside of the trunk


What I Did: Step 1: I used a wet kitchen towel to dampen the paper. Once it was wet enough I used a paint scraper and some elbow grease to remove the paper. This took several attempts to finish and each attempt counted as my work out for the day. After many calories were burned, the inside was finally clean: IMG_0428

No more dirty paper!

Step 2: My friend Dan helped with this step. We used his dad’s jig saw to cut cedar planks into the right size. This was surprisingly easy once the boards were carefully measured so they would all fit together once in the trunk. You can buy regular cedar boards at Home Depot as well, but the CedarSafe planks are meant for lining closets and come with a groove cut into the sides so the boards fit nicely together. I used wood glue to bind the planks to the trunk.  This had to be done one side at a time, leaving time for each side to dry before starting another side. I started with the bottom, then the small sides, and then the front and back. A note about the Cedar Safe planks: some of the planks were warped so they wouldn’t fit together. I had the idea to use the extra wood for grilling food on. I called the company and they said that they can’t recommend using it to cook salmon on, but the wood is untreated so they don’t think it would be a problem.  They must have a lawyer on staff. Very polite customer service though. IMG_0430

I lined each board with glue and placed it carefully into the trunk

IMG_0431

Bottom done!

IMG_0432 I used heavy books to keep the boards on the bottom of the side in place until the glue dried and used one of my Kitchen Aid bag clips to hold the top boards in place.  For those of you with some foresight I recommend using clamps.

Step 4: This step was the biggest gamble. The wood on the outside of the trunk was unfinished, very old, and covered in beautiful paper in places. The man who sold me the trunk recommended an orange oil polish. After consulting with some employees at Home Depot, I decided to put my lot in with the Howard Feed-N-Wax Wood Polish and Conditioner. It is made with orange oil, and meant for untreated wood. I squeezed some on to a paper towel, and gently rubbed the polish in a circular motion on a small corner of wood to test it out. And it worked wonders! It cleaned off a century of grime, and was even gentle enough for the paper. I regretted scraping off the paper I already had from the outside. I gently rubbed the entire outside of the trunk with it except for any metal parts. For the metal I sprayed some WD-40 onto a paper towel and wiped down the metal corners and hardware of the trunk. It shined them right up and removed some of the rust. IMG_2540

The paper left on and cleaned with oil

Step 5: I wanted to protect the old paper that still lined the lid of the trunk, as well as the lovely lady who charmed me into purchasing the trunk in the first place. I also wanted to keep that very old paper away from my sweaters.  I held my breath as I sprayed Shellac all over it (so I wouldn’t inhale it and with anticipation). It darkened parts of the paper even though I tried to keep the bottle an even distance away from the lid as I sprayed.  I was a little nervous but a day later it had dried evenly and now the lid looks the same way it did when we bought it but a little glossier. IMG_2539 And now for the reward. There is a special shot whose name corresponds a little too well with this project. I must share it with you.   Junk In Da Trunk seemed too good to be true. Spoiler alert.  It was.  You pour a half ounce each of Amaretto, Blackberry Schnapps, and 7-Up per person in a shaker with some ice.  I made my own 7-Up using lime and lemon juice and some powdered sugar (It was less sweet than real 7-Up).  You shake that baby up.  You pour it into shot glasses. IMG_2672 The moment it hit my lips I instantly thought of that pink liquid medicine we would take in a plastic measuring tube as children. I took another sip.  Still tasted like baby medicine. I’m not sure if it was because I chose to go with the cheap Amaretto, or because the combination is misguided, but I do NOT recommend this one unless you are into shots that taste like baby medicine. 14744 We promise a better cocktail for our readers next time; for your sake and mine! Cheers!

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About hoochandhome

home improvement, one cocktail at a time
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One Response to Too Much Junk In This Victorian Trunk

  1. Pingback: The Organ-ized Kitchen | Hooch & Home

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