Twenty years ago, I made a cedar-lined hope chest for my daughter out of cabinet grade oak plywood and finished it with three coats of clear polyurethane. Now she has bought her own home with cherry kitchen cabinets and a cherry bedroom set and wants me to refinish her hope chest to a cherry finish. Oh, boy, I see a lot of work. I’m not happy about sanding it down and starting over as I don’t know if I could afford that much sandpaper. Any suggestions? – Bill Blodgett
Tim Inman: You made your daughter a keepsake piece twenty years ago. I think she needs to keep that chest just as it is, and honor you and the chest for the gift it was: an heirloom handmade by Dad. If you try to make that oak chest look like a cherry one, it won’t be that satisfying when you’re all done. Yes, you can change the color, but it will just look like a cherry-stained oak chest. Also, you made the piece out of plywood. You don’t have much oak to work with! Sanding and scraping away will more than likely cut off some veneer and chip other edges. My suggestion? Well, since you ask: Take about the same time and energy, and make her a new cherry one. Keep the oak original for later on — give it to your granddaughter, or wait until your daughter moves again to an oak environment. Then you’ll be all ready for her next whim.
Chris Marshall: Agreed all around.