Antique Coat Tree Restoration

Antique Coat Tree After Refinishing - Airplanes and Rockets

Coat Tree After

Coat Tree Before

For as long as both Melanie and I can remember this old coat tree has been standing in her parent's house - first in Hagerstown, Maryland, then in two locations in West Virginia, and finally back in Hagerstown, Maryland. After her mother moved into a senior care home, we 'inherited' it, which was great for me because, being obviously old, I really liked it. As you can see from the 'before' picture, it was in pretty rough shape and having been heavily used for who knows how many decades? Any glue that might have been used had long since disintegrated, and the finish was heavily worn. A few small nails held everything together in a very wobbly manner. It probably started out life in York, Pennsylvania. from whence her parents both harkened.

After disassembling everything, I sanded off what remained of the original finish and filled all the holes and deep grooves with wood putty. The base feet pads were leveled by laying a full sheet of 150-grit sandpaper on the workbench top and dragging all four back and forth until it sat without teetering. Elmer's Carpenter's Glue was used to hold all the parts together; no nails were used this time around. Embarrassingly, I did not notice until making this page that I incorrectly positioned the support blocks horizontally along the feet rather than vertically along the main pole. Oops, that was rather stupid of me. Nobody else will even know, so don't say anything to anyone ;-)


Antique coat tree top (original) - Airplanes and Rockets

Minwax stain and three coats of Minwax satin polyurethane were applied, with sanding between all coats. I prefer polyurethane over lacquer (e.g., Deft) because it does not show scratches as readily, but it sure is a pain to keep from running, especially when the temperature is below about 65 degrees. It was about 60° in the garage when I did this, but I managed to only end up with a barely detectable run down at the very bottom of the main pole.

Antique coat tree base (original) - Airplanes and Rockets

The coat hooks up top look in the picture like they are coated with bronze or brass, but in fact the color is due to rust and crud. The wire wheel on the bench grinder handily wore off all the oxidation, then a few coats of clear acrylic were sprayed on to preserve the shiny appearance. I was tempted to paint them but wanted to keep it looking original.

The coat tree / family heirloom now sits in our kitchen, close to the garage door. It will easily last another half a hundred years or more. 

Antique coat tree base (refinished) - Airplanes and Rockets

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Posted April 10, 2015