Today I am sharing a sentimental project that I recently completed in partnership with Cedar Safe. This project started several years ago when Fitzy and I were fortunate to inherit an antique cedar chest from Fitzy’s grandfather. It was a beautiful old chest that was in need of some tender loving care. It sat in our guest room for a long time largely unused. As was old tradition, someone had filled the antique cedar chest with moth balls many many years ago. Can you imagine the smell when you opened the lid? While we wanted to enjoy this family heirloom, we struggled to figure out a way to get rid of the moth ball smell.
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Before I share the how-to of this project, it is only fitting that I share the sweet story behind this sentimental antique cedar chest and why it is so special to our family.
On December 7th, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Within days, a young man marched into the local recruiting office. Like his brothers and fellow country men before him, he was determined to do his part. The Coast Guard offered him a position and readily prepared to ship him overseas. He was excited to do his part but also a little scared to leave. You see…he was falling in love with a beautiful young gal he lovely called Dot. With the uncertainty of the war, they had waited to confirm their love and join in matrimony. While many country men and women were quickly entering marriage in the sight of an unforeseen future, this young man was determined that he would not leave Dot a widow or make a promise he might not be able to keep. With these strong intensions he refused to offer Dot a ring before his departure.
Fitzy’s Grandparents: Joe and Dorothy
He consider for a long time the gift he might be able to give his love before going off to war. He vowed it would not be a ring. Strong in his beliefs, he wanted the promise of marriage to be longer then just a few short months if he were to be killed in battle. He was determined that Dot would not be left a young widow if he had anything to do with it. He did not want to get engaged. That also represented a future he wasn’t sure he could give her. With so much uncertainty he really considered the perfect gift for a long time.
Eventually he settled on the perfect gift. He rushed out to find a cedar chest. To him, this cedar chest represented everything he wanted to express to his young love. He undoubtedly loved her and intended to spend the rest of his live with her. Most importantly he wanted her to cherish their memories together and be happy long term. To Joe, this cedar chest represented the memories they had shared and the hope to fill this chest up with loving mementos in the future. If he didn’t return from the war, he wanted his beloved to fill this cedar chest up with happy mementos from a life well lived. With or without him.
The war was hard. During his time in service, Joe spent 11 months on a ship without ever stepping foot on land. At night he would sneak up to the deck of the ship to sleep under the stars. He preferred staring at the night sky versus being down below deck with ‘all those smelly men’ (those were his words). He would drag his single blanket up to sleep on the cold hard deck. And he would dream…dream of that sweet young gal he had left behind while praying that he would return safely to her when the war ended.
Joe’s Ship- The John Penn- Image Source
Eventually Joe returned safely home. He married Dot and they were blessed with two daughters. He dedicated his entire life to honoring his beloved and to filling that cedar chest with happy mementos.
Isn’t she lovely! The antique cedar chest wasn’t in terrible shape on the outside. Just a few scratches here and there.
Not too bad of shape for a cedar chest from 1941.
Here are the steps I took to refurbish the antique cedar chest.
- I liberally filled the bottom of the cedar chest with baking soda and closed the lid. After closing the lid, I forgot about it for several days. I wanted to see if the baking soda would help to absorb some of the odor. It worked a little bit but not enough to really make a difference.
- I vacuumed out all the baking soda.
- Next I took a 3M sanding block to the inside cedar boards. Giving each cedar surface a light sanding. This helped improve the smell as it appeared to remove the surface smell and open up the cedar ‘pores’.
- I wiped down the inside of the cedar chest with a damp cloth. This step was important as I needed to remove the sanding dust.
- With a soft cloth, I applied the cedar oil to all cedar surfaces inside the chest. This was an amazingly easy process. The cedar oil goes on smoothly and you can see it soak in as you go.
- Leave the lid open to ensure all the oil dries.
- I touched up the outside of the antique cedar chest with Tibit Almond Stick.
The cedar oil is simply amazing. It was easy to use and quickly absorbed into the cedar. With a clean cloth, I was able to generously apply the oil directly to the inside of the chest. In small circular motions I covered the entire inside surface quickly. And…just to make sure I didn’t miss a spot, I applied a light second coat. Not only does it change the smell of the wood but helps to bring out the natural beauty of cedar wood.
I also want to introduce you to another miracle worker. The Tibit Almond Stick is honestly one of my favorite products of all time. A friend introduced us to this amazing little stick several years ago and we have been a dedicated fan ever since. Got a little scratch…simply wipe the almond stick directly on the scratch and watch it disappear. Got a big scratch…liberally wipe the almond stick on the scratch and watch the scratch disappear. It is amazing. It isn’t a stain and doesn’t have to be matched to different wood types. It beautifully covers the scratch. Only disclaimer, it won’t make the scratch go away forever…eventually the oil will dissipate and the scratch may reappear. Our experience is that it depends on the severity of the scratch. Light scratches may be covered for years before needing another little touchup. Heavy scratches may need more frequent touch ups.
I don’t have a big reveal or amazing after photos for you. It is hard to show how something smells better. 🙂 But can I tell you…IT WORKED!!! I can’t believe how amazing the inside of our antique cedar chest smells. It provides a beautiful cedar aroma when you open the lid while all the contents are beautifully tucked inside.
For all these years, this antique cedar chest held beautiful mementos of a happy life well lived. Now we are excited to carry on the tradition created by Fitzy’s sweet grandfather.
A special thank you to Cedar Safe for providing the cedar oil for this post! All opinions as well as the sweet love story are my own.
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