I hunkered down and got it done this weekend, readers. The steamer trunk is finished!!
When I last left off on this project, I had finished scraping off the disgusting wallpaper plastered inside the trunk, I had painted a coat of Kilz on the inside surfaces (for the sake of refreshing the interior, and also to cover and seal in the musty smell), and I painted the hardware black. Let’s refresh our memories, since it’s been a million since anyone thought about the trunk sitting in my basement.
I started out trying to loosen the paper to peel just the wallpaper off, but it was so stuck on in places that I just decided to scrape off the top layer of the cardboard that was underneath. To be clear, this is not a wooden trunk, or a metal trunk. In all my research to try and figure out what to do with the trunk we bought, all the suggestions were assuming I had a beautiful wooden trunk just waiting to be stripped and sanded and refinished. I do not have such a thing. My investigation of our trunk reveals that it is made of plywood-ish wood covered in a dense cardboard material for all the sides, top, and bottom, which is covered in vulcanized rubber (the dark green material on the outside of the trunk). I didn’t feel bad about scraping off some of the cardboard, I figured it would help with getting rid of the musty smell.
I took a bit of a break on the trunk after scraping it out, and I finally picked up again to paint the hardware around the same time I was framing that piece of fabric Dan brought back from Japan. I bought a small tin of Tremclad rust paint in matte black, and my trusty Elmer’s white glue for patching up some of the gouges in the top and sides of the trunk (lift flap, apply glue, press down – easy!)
This is the point where I stopped for a LONG time. We took a break over the summer on little projects because the big house stuff was getting checked off the list (like finishing the crack repairs in the foundation). I spent my last weekend off doing nothing in particular, so I made a point to make this weekend a productive one.
I went out on Friday morning and bought the last few supplies I needed to get the trunk finished. I bought a small tin of Kilz to do another coat inside the trunk, and make sure the edges all looked neat and tidy. I also took this opportunity to seal any cracks I could see, which might mean musty stink smell would come lurking back. I used crack sealer and shmeared it into all the joins with my finger, and filled any old nail holes.
Next I sealed the outside of the whole trunk, I used Mod Podge matte acrylic sealer, which comes in a handy aerosol can and is designed to seal and finish craft projects, including maps/documents, and furniture. You may recall that my concern was sealing the outside while not damaging the original shipping labels and stickers still covering the trunk.
You can’t SEE much of a difference, but now there’s a more uniform look between the hardware and the surface of the trunk, plus I know the labels are sealed in tight.
We bough fabric to line the trunk ages ago in the summer, but after watching this awesome video tutorial on lining a wooden box with fabric, I went out and bought 2 yards of teal flannel to add a little extra cushioning to my fabric. Also, I chose to cut my project costs and not buy foamcore board to use for the fabric panels, because that stuff is $5 or $6 for a 20″ x 30″ sheet, and I needed 5 of them to get the coverage for my trunk. I bought poster board instead, for the low low price of $0.50 a sheet.
With my basic measurements in hand, I started by cutting all the poster board pieces I would need to fit inside the trunk.
The inside of the trunk isn’t just a set of four simple rectangles, unfortunately. There are beveled edges all around it, which required me to cut and cover thin strips of poster board to go between two large panels. More on that shortly.
For each piece, I sprayed the back of the poster board with spray adhesive and pressed it onto the flannel, which I cut to be slightly larger the the piece on all sides.
The process is exactly the same as applying the flannel – spray the flannel side of the piece and press it on to the wrong side of the fabric. The edges of the fabric will extended slightly beyond the board, then you snip the corners, spray with more adhesive, and press the edges down.
The next part was a little painful to watch, and I was not able to get any pictures of me doing it, because it was me crawling around on the floor with a hot glue gun with a 12″ cord. I ended up shifting the trunk around a few inches at a time to get access to the other end of it as I was gluing. It was long and tedious (and p.s., an extension cord with a hot glue gun just loses you glue gun power), but I secured each panel in a few spots in the centre, and all along the edges with dots of hot glue.
With that first success under my belt, I had Dan trim down some cedar planks to fit in the bottom of the trunk:
The boards sit on top of the angled edge that runs along the bottom of the trunk, because covering more thin little strips of poster board was going to drive me up the wall. There’s a gap underneath the boards, and space in between each one, for air flow, or because of partial project laziness (you decide!).
I took a lunch break, then started tackling the lid, which had smaller pieces, but more awkward angled edges and far more thin strips of fabric-covered poster board. But it’s done!