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For those of you who have read my blog for a while, you may know that I live in Northern California and in a suburb of a relatively metropolitan city. There are still a few scattered country estates or two or three, but having access to reclaimed materials as might be found from old barns or old buildings is not going to be a typical or easily obtainable thing. In fact in good old C-A, you are likely to pay a premium for it, unless you know someone, who knows someone, who has a cousin…and so on and so forth. Of course you can always attempt the long wait and lovingly place your boards outside for the big weathering transformation to take place, let me know how that goes… like in ten years when your materials are nicely weathered and ready for building with!

Well it turns out there is another option, and it just so happens it’s a non-toxic solution that seriously gets the job done. None of this eco-friendly mamby pamby seeming stuff. I’m talking hardcore, reclaimed, weathered finish in a SNAP! no joke…

Something to build, and then Reclaim (not sure what? check out my Plan Index and Pick Your Poison)

White Vinegar

Ultra Fine Steel Wool

Clean Cloth - even a Paper Towel will work

For other Finishing Techniques and Tutorials visit my Finishing School!

I chose to get the plastic container of Vinegar because of the lid mechanism. You know that easy opening and closing white push down cap with a connector to keep it from falling off? Fabulous for easy access and storage. You can use a glass container or any other thing to get this project started, but I liked the 2 birds with one stone aspect of this container.

I poured out about a 1/2 cup of vinegar into another container (actually an older container of the same stuff actually, so as not to let it to go to waste) to make a bit of room for the steel wool. I used a kitchen knife to push, prod, and poke a whole steel wool (thingy)….not sure what you call it, but one of those lumps you see in the bag there, down into the vinegar container. I gave it a good shake, no idea what for, but I subscribe to the idea that everything needs a good shake or stir before it’s ready to use? Then I set that baby outside in the sun to do it’s thang… 3 weeks later, seriously… because my bed building got waylaid by unforeseen events, not relating whatsoever to the amount of time the vinegar concoction required, but rather to my dysfunctional tool cadre and the weather. For you, this will take a few days of sun tanning to get the goods, that’s all. Think of this as the most wonderful Sun Tea you ever did make, and then, don’t actually drink it, that would be terrible tasting, but probably not toxic?

Now, I should mention that I hadn’t actually intended for my Reclaimed Sun Tea to be used on my glorious big girl bed (Plans for building this bed can be found here), but after a full paint job in White, things we not shaping up as I hoped and I needed to make drastic, sweeping changes to complete this project the way my mind’s eye imagined the whole thing going down. So 5 full days of sanding later…not joking…and a sunburn or 2 under my belt…also not joking, I had virtually sanded all of the white paint from the Bed. As you can see in the image above there are definitely still some remnants of the white, but I assumed perhaps they would lend themselves to the drifted weathered, washed out look I was hoping for. I was wrong about that part, but in the end it still turned out fabulously.

You can see in the images exactly how much white remained on the bed, or at least it appears you can see how much is left, but as we shall see in a moment, the procedure ended up revealing that there was in fact more still in tow than I had previously understood. And yes that is sidewalk chalk on the ground in the picture above, and yes the bed did get it’s share of chalk graffiti from my Monster Mash in the course of my week long adventure in sanding. I can only say thank goodness for my newly purchased Sander! It took 5 hours for any fatigue (in my hands at least) to set in! That is what I’m talking about…can I get a yahoo?

Once I was sanded, wiped, and ready for lift off, I took a cut out portion from an old pillowcase to use for the wiping extravaganza. For the Headboard portion of this, I actually used a paper towel, and so that would also work, and won’t make much of a difference either way, you just need something to pour the concoction on so you can wipe it on your boards. Within 5 seconds of wiping this onto the leg of my foot board, the transformation began. It happens fast and furiously! No doubt faster because of the newly and extremely well sanded wood.

Fabulous…can’t you see it?

In the image above I have only wiped the Reclaimed Sun Tea on the Leg so you can see the contrast begin to take form between the area that has been covered and the rest which hasn’t. This first photo below was taken about 7 seconds after I finished wiping on the Reclaimed Tea, true story! And the image below that is how it looked after 40 seconds with only the one Leg having been smothered with the Tea.

After wiping down the entire foot board you can really see the dark areas that I did first (because they are darker, duh..) and the paint that remains really stands out! Told you there was more than meets the eye, eek, but it’s ok it adds to the reclaimed look, or so I am telling myself!

The lighter areas of the wood are actually the areas that had less sanding, the more you sand, the easier the Reclaimed Sun Tea can penetrate.
Below is a close up of the transformation once it was complete!

It was stunning, but since I had something a tad lighter in mind (in my crazy mind) for my bed, I gave it a sanding with a fine grit paper (220) to even it out and lighten it up. And this fabulous silvery gray are what I was left with! Gorgeous isn’t it?

That’s it, so simple, and would not be so contrasty (yep, a new word for you..) and spotty if you simply sanded your build well, before apply your Reclaimed Sun Tea and in fact would likely give you a moderately more consistent all over weathering, which is truthfully what will look best on a large piece of furniture…like a bed.

It looks much less contrasting in the images here, than it did in person, so alas I sanded again, and more, until it was much lighter and more evenly keeled. I will share the finished project with you in just a bit! This should give you a good head start for making your own Reclaimed Sun Tea!

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