I love a good vintage steamer trunk. I love working on them imagining where they may have traveled in their time. This one was rough to start with, but I knew with a little love and time I could make it shine all over again. A friend found a couple of these on the side of the road - talk about a score!!
I especially love these flat top steamer trunks because they make awesome coffee tables. Wait until you see how this one turns out!
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My trick with these canvas covered trunks is to cut the canvas and pull it back revealing the old wood underneath. With a little TLC, you can make that wood shine.
Most old trunks have the same problem though, the handle has broken off. The leather is worn and with age disintegrates until it breaks. Replacing the handles make the trunks so much more functional, not to mention easy to move around.
First things first, grab a flat head screwdriver, or something you can pry with. I don't know what this tool is, but it is the handiest thing ever. I couldn't find the name for it or I would source it for you. Check out the "prying tool" on this page, it would work!
You will use this to pry out the old nails. These old nails can be hard to get out, so use some elbow grease and patience and do your best.
Once the caps are pried back, you'll see the end of the old leather handle and a couple more nails holding it in place. Pry these out as well and clean all that out.
Now you are ready to install your new handles. This website is the best I've found for trunk parts and pieces - they have authentic looking leather handles.
In this case, I used a little trick though. One of my husband's belts had just broken, so I cut it down to size and used belt pieces for my trunk handles. You could also grab a thrift store belt if you don't have an extra one in your closet.
Cut a little hole in the end of the belt.
And I like to screw it back into the trunk. I think this gives a better hold. I added a bit of glue to the back of the belt and a short screw to go through the belt into the trunk.
Then use a hammer and replace the tacks (isn't that the crustiest rustiest hammer you ever saw? It was just what was handy).
Just like that you have yourself a set of new handles. Again, not hard, but it does take a little patinece.
The interior of this one I decided to paint in General Finishes Lamp Black Milk Paint. It's a nice clean look that will seal it and make it ready to hold blankets, board games or clothes.
Snatch up the next trunk you see and give it a makeover (or fix up one you have). It's such a rewarding project. Don't forget to check out this post for more refinishing details!
Until next time, happy creating!