While many people were engrossed in Super Bowl weekend, I was busy with another refinishing project. Not that I have anything against sports of any kind (I love athletics and physicality in all its forms), I just can’t help myself when it comes to finding another project to immerse myself into.
The mantel was a large, unfinished, splintery piece of wood that perches on top of a stone shelf. I had been wanting to do something with this for quite some time, but the size of this large slab of wood was a bit daunting to get down AND back up over the fireplace – it measures 2 3/4 inches thick by 12 inches deep by 72 inches long. But since taking down the last of the Christmas decorations drew my attention to this dust and soot collector, I couldn’t let it linger any longer. Due to the splinters, it was impossible to wipe clean and there was an indeterminate reddish stain to it, somehow it made that entire area feel dusty and dirty (not to mention, the inherent disadvantage of it’s proximity to the fireplace).
Here is what it looked like BEFORE:
As you can see, it was a kind-of gross…
So I pulled it off the stone shelf and pulled out my wonderful palm sander! Using 80 grit pro grade sandpaper, I sanded the entire surface of the wood. Then scrubbed it clean with warm water and a bristle scrubber and let it dry in the sun (it has been a particularly warmish winter here in the Northeast). Then I lightly hand sanded with 150 grit pro grade sandpaper to give it a smoother finish, but still left the natural ruggedness of this beautiful piece.
Here’s how it transformed in just about an hour of work:
After a final wipe with damp paper towels and letting the wood completely dry, I applied one coat of MinWax Polycrylic Protective Finish, clear gloss. I love this stuff, because not only is it water-based for less fumes and easy clean-up, but it also seems to maintain the natural color of the wood, (unlike many polyurethane finishes, which tend to leave an orange tint) while sealing the wood and providing a beautiful durable finish.
Here is how it looked AFTER:
Now I can see all the natural beauty of the wood while maintaining the rustic character of this beautiful mantel and allowing a smooth, easily cleanable surface as it rests solidly on the stone shelf above the fireplace! The entire area feels different now 🙂