This is a complete tutorial on how to remove the radio from a vintage radio cabinet and replace the insides with shelves. Then we paint it!
I know ya’ll remember this vintage radio cabinet. It was at a local flea market shop and I passed on it because of the condition and the price. The price was $60 and the cabinet was in terrible condition.
I was really torn about passing on it. Several of you offered advice on whether to purchase it and also suggested offering less money for the cabinet. The comments were running close to 50/50 leaning slightly toward buying, but at a lower price.
I went to back to the shop and was so glad to see the cabinet was still there. It was a mess but it was still calling my name. I was planning to offer $40 for the cabinet. But guess what?? There was a 30% off sign on the vendor’s booth. The sale price of the radio was $42……sold.
Here’s a look at the inside of the cabinet with the radio still in place. You can also see how the piece between the legs is falling off.
There was a lot of missing veneer and the top was a disaster. The JTS and I will have to take the radio out and do a major overhaul if this piece is going to look like anything.
We hauled the cabinet home and the first thing the JTS (aka Junktion Technical Specialist, aka Hubby) started to work. The first thing he did was remove the base and start gluing the legs and stuff back together.
The top of the base was coming apart as was the bottom, and the legs were all wobbly. I’m surprised the cabinet didn’t fall over. That’s how bad it was.
He used a lot of glue and clamps and straps to hold all of the pieces together. The hubby is so good at this stuff. I hate the gluing part because it slows me down. I just want to start painting but can't always do that first although sometimes I try.
Next, we started removing all of the insides. Finding the screws and bolts holding everything in place and figuring out how to proceed was half the battle. Even though I've painted several of the radio cabinets this is the first one I purchased with the radio still inside. Don’t worry, I’m saving the good parts of the radio. Who knows what I might do with them?
Removing that shelf was the hardest part. We used crowbars and hammers and took turns working on it. The shelf was tightly wedged into the slots on the walls of the cabinet.
I'm surprised we didn't tear the whole cabinet apart between all the hammering and the crowbars. Not that you would notice if we did.
The never-ending story of removing the radio parts continues. I'm ready to get on with the most important part.....the painting. I tend to be a little biased when it comes to paint time. I mean….that is what makes it pretty.
Once the cabinet was empty and the glue was dry on the base we put the two pieces back together.
The radio cabinet is actually pretty now compared to what it looked like before. All of the details make it beautiful!
The cabinet was really really dirty and the clean up has to be done before painting can start. The JTS is awesome. Have you guys noticed that? I should be nicer to him.
The original back was missing so the JTS cut a new back for the piece using a sheet of luan. Then he attached it using a nail gun.
Seems like the repairs are never-ending. One of the doors was coming apart so out came the wood glue and clamps again. See my feet….I was there….taking photos.
Those straps come in handy for all kinds of things. As you can see the cabinet now has shelves. I didn't get photos of the JTS cutting the shelves and installing them. Sorry. He put the shelves in before attaching the new back.
The radio cabinet is actually pretty now compared to what it looked like before. All of the carved details make it beautiful!
Now it's time to move on to the painting after a few more repairs....
There was a lot of missing and loose veneer. Instead of stripping all the veneer I glued the loose pieces and didn’t worry about the missing pieces. The areas with chipped veneer will look great painted and distressed. The top had no veneer at all and big gouges in the wood. The JTS filled the worst parts with wood filler.
The cabinet was finally ready to paint. I used Off-White Beyond Paint on the shelves and interior walls.
I didn’t notice the loose and gaping veneer pieces on the front of the doors until I was painting the inside of the cabinet. I used wood glue and clamps to take care of the worst areas.
Before painting the outside of the cabinet I used FrogTape to protect the white paint inside. Didn’t want gray on the white. My first plan was to paint the doors white and the rest of the piece gray. The paint is Benjamin Moore and the color is Gray, yes it's simply called Gray.
With this plan in mind, I used FrogTape around the doors too. As we all know my plans tend to change halfway through a project. I painted the doors with off-white Beyond Paint like the inside.
Now I’m ready to dry-brush off-white paint onto the gray. All it takes is a dab of paint for dry brushing.
I dipped the brush bristles into the paint and then wiped most of the paint off the brush with a paper towel. Next, I ran the brush over the raised details. This is how you dry brush paint onto anything.
Then I distressed the whole cabinet by hand using 100 grit sandpaper.
This is what it looked like after the distressing. I kept looking at the piece and kept having doubts about the look. I showed the above photo to Sara at the shop and she said the white looked like a tombstone. That did it for me.
I can tell you the paint process after that, I just don’t have photos. When I’m working on a project and using the trial and error method (and throwing a few fits too), I forget to take photos.
Benjamin Moore Gray Paint
I painted gray over the white and then painted gray over some of the dry-brushed white areas because there was too much white. Then I distressed the whole cabinet again.
When I was trying to decide on the paper for the interior I noticed how the white paint on the front edges of the shelves popped out at me. So I painted them gray too then I covered them with an old calendar. You can use anything as shelf paper.
And that was the process Ladies and Gentlemen. Sometimes my first plan, second plan, and sometimes third plans don’t work.
Have you ever worked a project over two or three times before you got it right?
I think you will enjoy my video on How To Antique Painted Furniture....
As always thanks for being here, Kathy