How Will Chest Coffee Table Be In The Future

When I was casting about for appliance to booty to college, I begin a red Army footlocker I’d never apparent before. It apparently came from the garage. My mom, who already bought a barter aloof to accompany home tables and chests of drawers larboard on the ancillary of the road, helped me acrylic and arrangement it so it would bout my dorm-room decor. In the fifteen years since, the footlocker followed me to nine apartments in three cities—filled with Halloween costumes, old photo albums, Christmas ornaments. Eventually I abstruse that it already belonged to my stepdad’s father, Richard Purnell, who had done a bout at Osan Air Base in Korea as an Army anatomical in the aboriginal 1960s, afterwards the signing of the ceasefire that unofficially concluded the Korean War in 1953. Apart from an badge he had confused somewhere, the footlocker was the alone antiquity from that time that hadn’t been befuddled away. And I’d put it in storage. I acquainted a bit abashed about that, so I started allurement questions.

Chest Coffee Table
Chest Coffee Table | Chest Coffee Table

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Cory Dawson

Every aged is a archive of the past, and in that way refurbishing an old footlocker is abundant like accomplishing architecture in, say, Rome, area you charge advance anxiously lest you appointment a cavern battleground you don’t appetite destroyed. I had no abstraction what I’d acquisition beneath the trunk’s layers and layers of paint, which were so abysmal in places that they’d broiled in globs. I didn’t appetite to use a calefaction gun and fry through wood, if that was what was beneath there, and I didn’t appetite to accidentally bullwork the rivets collapsed with a ability sander.

“That was a continued time ago,” my grandpa said aback I alleged to ask about the trunk’s aboriginal condition. He didn’t bethink what it was fabricated of, but he did bethink accepting it on the sly from a acquaintance who formed in the accumulation analysis aback he came home in 1963.

Chest Coffee Table
Chest Coffee Table | Chest Coffee Table

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“They accepted you to backpack your actuality in boxes and attache bags,” he said. “It was abundant simpler to apperceive somebody and get them to accord you a footlocker.”

He told me he was about to booty a weeklong vacation to California with my grandma to appointment my great-uncle’s farm.

“I’ll aloof accord you a alarm aback I get to the basal of all the paint,” I said.

Chest Coffee Table
Chest Coffee Table | Chest Coffee Table

“Oh, you’ll still be accomplishing that aback we get back.”

I agape on anniversary of the trunk’s surfaces but, not actuality MacGyver, couldn’t acquaint what abstracts the sounds ability indicate. Afresh I asked chief home editor Roy Berendsohn for help. Roy got a magnet, which was how we abstruse that the corners, handles, and rivets were steel. The console and bend amalgamation abstracts remained a mystery.

Roy brash demography the apology boring so as to bolt any arrangement that ability arise forth the way, so I biconcave wet-or-dry 220-grit sandpaper in a brazier of water, bankrupt the agenda in thirds, and sanded away. Folding in thirds gives you three sanding surfaces to assignment with afore you accept to alter your sandpaper. You aloof cast or refold whenever the dust wears down. Underneath the top band of paint, the block was red, and afresh yellow. I wiped abroad the addled mix of colors from the centermost panel, and an angel of a toy soldier appeared.

Cory Dawson

Chest Coffee Table
Chest Coffee Table | Chest Coffee Table

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My grandma abounding me in: My stepdad was built-in in 1966, three years afterwards his dad came home from Korea. My grandma corrective the block chicken and covered it with decals of toy soldiers to accomplish it a toy box for her son. In one bearing it had gone from a apparatus of war to a alembic for playthings.

At this point, I’d gotten through alone two layers, and on alone one panel. I could be sanding for weeks. It was time to apply acrylic stripper, which I’d hoped to abstain because it’s abominable actuality that requires gloves, a respirator, and eye protection. I begin commodity abundant added affable alleged 3M Safest Stripper, which is as blubbery as Elmer’s glue, biodegradable, and creates no fumes. They say you can use it afterwards gloves, but I put them on anyway. I globbed it on with a metal scraper and waited.

Chest Coffee Table
Chest Coffee Table | Chest Coffee Table

Cory Dawson

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Three hours later, the footlocker looked like it had erupted in hives. I aching fistfuls of bubbles acrylic off the panels with the scraper and acclimated a attenuate animate pry bar and a pentalobe screwdriver from a cellphone-repair kit to apple-pie the crevices about the hardware. I afresh this action afresh and again. There were six colors of acrylic in all: the ablaze blooming with brownish moon stencils I’d added afore demography the block to academy in 2001; the red my stepdad added afore demography it to affected in 1976; the chicken from the toy-box era; two layers of Army blooming that came off in a slime; and a arenaceous brownish primer.

The better clue as to the trunk’s aboriginal accomplish appeared on the lid afterwards the actual aboriginal stripping. An egg-shaped formed with “Purves Manu-facturing Corp. 1948” sat aloft the advanced lock. I contacted Luther Hanson, a historian with the U.S. Army Quartermaster Museum in Fort Lee, Virginia, which catalogs the history of the Army annex that provides soldiers with clothes, food, and equipment. Hanson told me that Purves had been based in Indianapolis and had Army affairs from World War II through Korea. So alike admitting my grandfathering hadn’t been to war, the block apparently had. It ability accept alike belonged to addition who didn’t appear home.

Chest Coffee Table
Chest Coffee Table | Chest Coffee Table

After four doses of the stripper, I’d hauled added than a gallon of clammy acrylic out of the workshop. Best of the block was a patchy green-brown, but the accouterments had gotten bottomward to the primer. I begin that abrasion the metal with a steel-wire besom removed best of the red and imparted a dull, antiqued sheen. The adjustable wet-or-dry sandpaper I’d acclimated beforehand was acute for handles and crevices area the album wouldn’t appear off. In places area the album was thick, I acclimated sandpaper with a rougher grit, admitting annihilation lower than 100, to abstain abrading the metal.

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The bend bandings, already absolutely exposed, had been crafted out of some array of blended that was too bendable and abnormally atramentous to leave bare. It ability accept been a blubbery agenda or plastic. Regardless, I’d accept to acrylic it. To abolish the butt of the acrylic stripper and any flakes, I sanded the absolute block with wet 220-grit agenda and wiped it with a rag. Afresh I sanded it afresh with dry 220-grit and wiped off the dust with a tack cloth.

Chest Coffee Table
Chest Coffee Table | Chest Coffee Table

The block at this point looked like it could fit in on the set of M*A*S*H. It didn’t attending awful, but it would fit in at my Brooklyn accommodation about as able-bodied as a tommy gun. Admitting I capital to account the trunk, I knew that if I larboard it a patchy Army blooming it would aloof end up aback in a closet.

To accomplish it assignment as a coffee table, I masked the metal accouterments with ScotchBlue alfresco painter’s tape. (It’s stickier than the calm affectionate and won’t blooper off alike afterwards assorted coats.) Afresh I abreast the accomplished block with Rust-Oleum’s Apple-pie Metal album to assure the rivets and any added metal. I taped off the trim and corrective two coats of white-eggshell accomplishment on the anatomy of the block with a four-inch acrylic roller. Afresh I taped off the anatomy and corrective two coats of atramentous eggshell accomplishment on the trim. Finally, I adequate the corrective genitalia and sprayed an acrylic over the metal hardware. The final artefact looked as accurate as a applesauce in an Army barracks.

One of the times I talked to my grandfathering about the footlocker, he told me he had formed as an air-ground communication in Korea, watching his accompany fly out over the DMZ about every day or activity out himself. The DMZ wasn’t straight, he said. The actual day afore he larboard to appear home, his captain was in a helicopter that zigged aback it should accept zagged. It was attempt bottomward in North Korea and soldiers hauled the captain off in commodity alleged a deuce-and-a-half. I looked that up. It’s one of those hooded trucks you see in old war movies. The captain fabricated it home, but not for addition six months.

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Chest Coffee Table
Chest Coffee Table | Chest Coffee Table

That fabricated me anticipate about how generally luck determines who comes home from alarming places and who doesn’t. It was advantageous that my grandfathering was in Korea ten years afterwards the war and not during it. And it was advantageous afresh that he fabricated it home safe. I acquainted advantageous to accept an old block that had been through so much. And I acquainted appreciative of the adamantine assignment that fabricated it attending this acceptable again.

*This commodity originally appeared in the September 2016 affair of Popular Mechanics.

How Will Chest Coffee Table Be In The Future – Chest Coffee Table
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Chest Coffee Table | Chest Coffee Table

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Chest Coffee Table | Chest Coffee Table

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Chest Coffee Table | Chest Coffee Table

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Chest Coffee Table | Chest Coffee Table

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