Before & After: Wooden chest with DIY leather handles

A few years ago, Adam's parents handed over his old toy box, which had been collecting dust in their garage. It's been in our basement since we moved, but I recently dug it out for a little makeover. It had lots of vintage charm - it's actually an old WWII locker - but it needed some work.

Adam's childhood self misspelled "psycho" across the top with Sharpie (um, what?), so I started by sanding the whole thing with my mouse sander. I worked from a medium grit to a fine grit, just to smooth everything out and get it ready for staining. You can still see a couple of places where Adam tried carving his name into the top, but I think it adds character. Plus, one day Hannah may appreciate knowing that it belonged to her dad :)

After sanding, I applied one coat of Minwax stain in 'Early American'. I've used a brush to apply stain in the past, but I prefer to work with a rag - much better control that way, at least for me. I let the stain dry overnight, then applied a coat of clear protective finish.

I also switched out the rope handles for a really simple DIY leather version. I had to sacrifice an old belt, but it was worth it! I used roofing nails to secure the leather to the box (I added a piece of scrap wood inside the box to give the nails something to grip; the existing holes for the handles are pretty big and the sides of the box are pretty thin).

The interior got an upgrade too. CIL recently sent me some of their Smart Wash & Wear paint to try, and what better place for extra durable, washable paint than inside a toy box? The colour is called Seashell Pink and it's a really pretty shade of soft pink (I think it would look great on a ceiling or used on bedroom walls like this).

The paint is supposed to be extra durable and washable, and the primer is built right in, which I love. I added the wood blocks for the handles after I'd already painted the interior and despite lots of dings with my hammer (and a few from the cinderblock I used to hold the wood in place), not a single touch-up was required. Pretty good, right?

Now we have the perfect spot to stash some of Hannah's favourite toys downstairs, though I still need to add a safety latch to the inside of the lid (to prevent it from slamming down on little fingers). When Hannah no longer needs it, I can definitely see us storing blankets or other household items in here.

While CIL provided me with a can of their Smart Wear & Wash paint, they did not ask me to write a review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. You can see other projects I've done using CIL paint - that I bought myself - here and here.


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