Before
Before

Around my birthday, I purchased three old trunks off Craigslist for $45.00 a piece. I’m going to store camping supplies (in the garage) and linens (under my bed) in them. So, that’s reasonable and pretty cool, right? Not in the least bit ‘crazy.’ Agreed. What MAY qualify me as crazy: I went on to purchase this little zinc trunk ($35.00) and then another really big flat top trunk ($50) from Craigslist. Within two weeks, there were trunks sitting around seemingly everywhere – including in the Jeep. All the trunks need some sort of repair and so, it began. I found a great trunk repair supply place back in Maine and the manager of Brettuns Village has been GREAT – answering questions and helping me get the right supplies. He’s made a loyal customer out of me – reasonable prices, fast shipping, interactive customer service who provided REALLY helpful information on everything from replacement keys to ‘do you think it will look funny if I do xyz?’ I’ll also add: their site has pictures of the shop mascots – two black labs. Nope, that didn’t sway me in the least to get supplies from them. 🙂

Trunk (after)
Trunk (after)

My friend Renee calls my new hobby trunking. “Nope, can’t hang out tonight, I’m trunking.” Sure, that works. It’s taken a few weeks of working on the trunks simultaneously and waiting for supplies to get this little trunk finished. The others are in various stages of repair. It’s torture, I tell ya, when I realize I didn’t order this/that and have to wait for two whole days for supplies to arrive from Maine.

Trunk interior (before) smelled better than it looked. The old paper was cool but I couldn't save it in the end - it was just too crumbly.
Trunk interior (before) smelled better than it looked. The old paper was cool but I couldn’t save it in the end – it was just too crumbly.

Don’t misunderstand – Brettuns’ folks are great; I just didn’t order everything I needed on the first go around. All told, I spent $55 to fix up this old trunk. I reused as many of the cinch nails and tacks as I could which helped keep new shiny metal off the facade. I took a picture of the strap stays and fashioned new ones with a bit of extra leather I cut off of the new straps.

The trunk was in pretty good shape given it’s age. It was missing a roller on the bottom (and I lost another one to rust when I tried to remove it). The leather pieces were hard, torn, or nearly rotted out. The hinges were in bad shape. The zinc has a few punctures and holes in it and the wood slats were very dry. Following the advice on Brettuns Village’s page, I worked on the repairs.

Interior (after). It looks good and smells better. I used Tung Oil and then dropped in a few homemade lavender pouches.
Interior (after). It looks good and smells better. I used Tung Oil and then dropped in a few homemade lavender pouches.

The list of repairs included:

  •  Removal of old interior paper and lots of sanding. I was able to save the pretty dancing girl inside the lid, but discovered someone had tried to cut her out before. Sand as I might, some of those cut marks were too deep to be completely sanded out.
  •  Removal and replacement of handles, lid lifter, and straps with new leather pieces. This was not nearly as difficult as I’d imagined – a good pry tool and blunt-nosed pliers made the job go fast. It was a bit nerve-wracking at times, but I was able to save and reuse the majority of the tacks and cinch nails.
  • Old strap stay construction. I was able to reuse the old nails for one side of the trunk. For the other side's strap, I had to order new tiny nails.
    Old strap stay construction. I was able to reuse the old nails for one side of the trunk. For the other side’s strap, I had to order new tiny nails.

    Fashioned new strap stays using the old one as a guide. This was also midly nerve-wracking but also fun/rewarding.

  • Replacement of two casters/rollers on bottom of trunk.
  • Sanded the wood rails and applied low-gloss Tung Oil (exterior wood and interior). The wood was extremely dry and soaked up the Tung Oil.
  • Replaced the cotton striped ribbon that had rotten away (used to ease the pressure on the hinges).
  • Replaced the ‘replacement’ hinges (not original) with new ones that look more appropriate for the trunk’s age and size
  • Rubbed down the exterior with butcher’s wax

I finished it up this afternoon and brought it inside. I’m really happy with it. It’s look pretty spiffy for its age (dated pre-1870). A trunk repair guy  (NOT the guys back in Maine – who let me say again – are AWESOME) I’d contacted (to ask if he could provide anymore information on this type of trunk) offered me nearly 10x what I paid for it. Nope, this little trunk will be staying here at Wildlands. 🙂

I can’t explain exactly why this little trunk’s presence strikes me as much as it does. It’s lovely, no doubt, but I’m reminded of a post I wrote years ago on possessions and how some items make me feel MORE like myself, thus making them beloved. This little trunk fits in that category.

Old trunk's new home
Old trunk’s new home as an end table (with extra blankets and quilt inside)
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