Mid-Century Dining Chairs Restoration

I woke early Saturday to drive out to the ‘Tip Shop’. The Tip Shop only opens on Saturdays and sells items that have been discarded at the dump. Money from sales goes to charity.

I had never been to the Tip Shop, even though it is only a 10 minute drive from my home. In my mind, I expected that items would be broken and beyond repair. However, as I keen to pursue my interest in recycling/upcycling furniture for sale, I drove out for a look. I had heard that the best items were picked up early in the morning, so I arrived shortly after open time.

What I found was a warehouse crammed with everything conceivable and streets full of cars. People were milling around everywhere to find a treasure. The items inside (and spilling outside) were in remarkable serviceable condition. A lot only needing a bit of spit and polish to be used.

As I’m only new to the game, I decided on investing initially in a couple of chairs only. The chairs were a bit tired in appearance with faded lacquer on the wooden frame. What attracted me to them was that the vinyl seat and backrest were in good condition and that the chairs had a mid-century style. Also attractive was the $6.00 purchase price for both. You can’t buy $5.00 with 6 bucks, so I was happy with the buy.

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I have decided that my goal is to find items within 10kms of my home. I don’t want to lose potential profit in petrol costs and time. I also have a low budget of $20 or under, so any loses are minimised. If I start making money, I may review the price limit if I deem the item is good value for money.

On arrival home with my new chairs, I had a quick look on Gumtree and located a desk for sale that was free. Free is my favourite price, so I called only to find that someone else had already expressed interest and would be around to collect. No big deal I thought, I will work on the chairs.

The remainder of the day I spent dismantling the chairs and sanding them. Under the faded and chipped lacquer I found wood with a pleasing grain. I oiled the chairs and ran some soap and water over the vinyl and they came up a treat. I listed them on eBay starting at $20.00. With sandpaper and oil, I probably have $10.00 invested in total, so doubling my money should be the worst result in my opinion. I will disregard labour costs as I would definitely run a deficit, even a base labour rates. That said, I enjoyed the restoration process, so it wasn’t a wasted day for me.

While watching TV that night, I received a text from the person giving away the desk that the interested ‘buyer’ had disappeared. I arranged to pick up early on Sunday morning.

The desk was a minor disappointment in that it was mostly MDF with a wood like coating. Other than being dusty though, it was solid and had almost no damage. I drove away with it in my ute trying to think how I could make the desk a bit more desirable.

For some reason, I don’t like to buy and sell straight away to make a profit. Somehow, I consider it unethical and that I should input time and effort into making the item better than when I purchased it. As the legs on the desk were wood, I sanded them back and covered them with a coat of poly.

In hindsight, taking the flat-pack legs apart without taking detailed photos first wasn’t the best idea, as reassembling the trestle leg setup took almost as long as the sanding did. In the end though, I was pleased with the outcome. I posted the desk on eBay with a starting price at $20.00 also. All up I probably have no more into the desk than $5.00.

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Anyway, the chairs and the desk have been listed and I await the outcome in 5 days. Here’s hoping for a profitable financial outcome. Ideally, I would like to generate enough money with my furniture sales to cover my weekly grocery bill. I eat a lot, so this is no small order, so we will see how we go.

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