By removing the old paper from the inside of the trunk, sanding it down and using a quality paint, an old steamer trunk can be restored in only a few days. The process requires supplies such as sandpaper, a wire brush and paint.
The most important part of restoring a vintage steamer trunk is patience. Sanding, painting and allowing the surface to dry take time and cannot be rushed.
- Remove the paper
- Sand the inside
- Remove the handles
- Clean the metal
- Remove canvas, paper or cloth
- Wash the wood
- Sand the wood
- Paint the metal
- Finish the wood
- Attach the leather handles
Remove the paper from the inside of the trunk using a scraper. Spray water to dampen the paper for easy removal. Detach the lid if necessary to get to all of the paper.
Using 100-grit sandpaper, sand the inside of the trunk. Once smooth, follow up with 150-grit sandpaper and work up to 220-grit until the surface is completely smooth.
If the trunk has leather handles, remove them. Also remove any leather end caps, taking care not to damage the wood.
Using a wire brush, carefully clean any metal found on the chest. If necessary, use steel wool or a wire brush attachment on a drill to clean tough spots. If rust is present, use water when sanding the metal.
Carefully remove any canvas, paper or cloth from the outside of the trunk. Use a razor or utility knife to remove these materials.
Using a solution of liquid dish soap and water, clean the wood surfaces of the trunk, taking care not to soak the wood. Allow it to dry completely.
Using 150-grit sandpaper, begin sanding the outside wood. Work up to a 220-grit sandpaper and sand it until smooth.
If desired, paint the metal on the outside of the chest. Completely mask off the wood and use a spray paint designed for use on metal. After allowing plenty of time for the paint to dry, paint the metal again with a clear coat and allow that to dry.
Finish the exposed wood with the stain of choice. Follow up with a polyurethane sealer. Allow plenty of time for it to dry.
Reattach the leather handles or purchase new handles to go on the trunk.