All things become new

The past eight days have seen me spending the majority of my time outside in the cold stinky workshop.

I donned scrub pants and gloves, sandpaper and tools, paint brushes and stain. I scrubbed and stripped and stained and polished; working something old into something new.  As of tonight, everything is complete. What a project!

When I first met these pieces of old wood, I didn’t think they were all that pretty. My first response was to skip them altogether as the thought of this kind of project was daunting. Really, it’s enough work to stain and finish new cabinets, to set up a new kitchen, but to start with damaged goods? To commit to pieces requiring so much background and history?


I wasn’t sure they were worth it.


When working with old pieces of wood, one can’t simply re-cover them. You don’t paint them and call them beautiful {which we learned the hard way the first time around with this kitchen}. If you simply cover up the old, it pushes back. The history and layers underneath eventually want to breathe. They resurface, they mess up the thin, pretty, surface layer, they reveal what they really were because it’s what they still are at the core.

When working with ‘story wood’ {wood with a tale, a few years, a history} it first needs to be laid bare. Sure, the deep gouges and unique edges will still remain, but the whole of it is stripped of all coverings, all hardware, all finishes, and then what’s left of the piece is revealed.


This takes work. Some scraping, some sanding, even some chiseling away. It takes pressure. It takes time. Then it’s washed and wiped…and sanded again. And again.


When the new stain is applied it can penetrate the now-new wood. This fresh surface soaks up the color and asks for more. Drinking it in…drinking it in…. I brush it on, wipe it off; first deep, then soft, then again. Layer after layer; brush, wipe, soak, breathe. Time and pressure. Waiting. Working it in, drawing it out so the grain, the true story, the swirls and scratches, are seen for what they are, and made beautiful.

IMG_0601 IMG_0605 IMG_0591

Days later, when all is clean and smooth and colored, we seal it. The sealant goes on smooth and white and dries clear and hard. It guards the piece; protecting that which is held within , as well as standing against that which comes against it.


It’s just old wood.
It’s just a girl in a garage Hearing Story.
It’s just something that was alive and then dead and is now being refinished, repurposed, renewed. 

One Response to “All things become new”
  1. Mama says:

    Wow! What an inspiration u r. I’ve been given an old wooden Santa’s grotto I’m trying to convert into a workshop. For me. Not Santa’s elves. Stuck coz don’t knw if I should paint or stain timber. Some of it is just falling apart rotten. Some of it is ok. But it sure is a long project. Thank u for this site.

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