A drop in the home loan ocean – eBay wins

I posted a while back that I had listed a few items on eBay to create more dollars to contribute to my dream of early retirement.

I would be reluctant to call this a ‘side hustle’ as I’m not listing enough volume to make a continual or substantial amount. Regardless, I have had a few successes that have added a few dollars to the coffers.

Trestle Leg desk

I picked this up for free from someone that just had too much stuff. Other than being dusty, it was in good, solid condition. The person lived minutes from my gym, so I wasn’t out of pocket for petrol to pick it up.

I didn’t do a whole lot to the desk. I sanded the legs for no other purpose then making it a bit different (and it was the only surface that was real wood) and cleaned up all the dusty areas.

I ended up selling for $31.51. Not a terrific amount but as it was free and I had put little time into it, I consider it a success.

Dining chairs

The chairs had obviously seen better days. The wood was faded and had some black ‘muck’ on them. However, they were solid and the vinyl was in dusty but good condition. I liked the mid-century style of the chairs, so paid up the huge sum of $6.00 for both of them.

I dismantled the chairs and scrubbed the black substance off. I sanded the lacquer back and found a really lovely grain underneath. After applying some Scandanavian oil to them, they looked great. I was very pleased with the finished product.

Overall, with the purchase of the chairs and products used to clean them up, I wasn’t out considerably financially. I did put in many hours into the restoration though. I decided to list at $20.00 with the hope of making $50 or $60.

Well, I got lucky. Two bidders went crazy against each other and after one day, the amount was over $100.00. At the end of bidding (with a single bid from another person), the chairs went for $162.50! I was actually a bit embarrassed at the winning price but I reminded myself of how much time I had put into the chairs.

A bonus also is that I found two more of the chairs that I am fixing now. The winning bidder has already expressed their interest, so I have a ready sale when I get them completed.

Vintage recliner

I bought two of these chairs for $60.00 a few months back, with the intention of keeping one for myself.

Both chairs were tired and the vinyl seating was weathered and cracked in parts. I managed to salvage enough of the vinyl from both chairs to make one decent chair. I disassembled one of the recliners and sanded back all the old lacquer. There was also some sticky gunk under all the vinyl, which took some elbow grease to get off. After oiling, the chair looked very impressive (in my opinion).

I had spent quite some time restoring the chair but little in the way of actual cost. I listed again at $20.00, with the hope of making around $100.00.

Bidding started off fairly strong and the price was over $60.00 in one day. This impressive start, with the fact that I had a ‘watch list’ of over 50 people after 2 days, made me start to see dollar signs in my eyes. Maybe $200-$300 was possible!

Well, bidding ended with $82.00. Still a win but I still felt somewhat disappointed as I had set myself up for something in the hundreds. Really though, I had only paid $30.00 dollars for the chair, so more than doubling my money was a good outcome. And I still have another chair to keep!

Overall results

  • Desk                     $0.00
  • Chairs                  $6.00
  • Recliner               $30.00
  • Product used       $15.00 (approx)
  • Sold                       $276.01
  • Profit                   $225.01

I’m not including the significant labour costs involved as I really enjoy the process I would be doing it in my spare time anyway. I also haven’t considered the eBay fees either, which will reduce my in-pocket. Still, I have additional money that I can pay off against my home loan that I didn’t have before. Only a drop in the ocean really but every bit counts.



Vintage Recliner Restoration

A few weeks ago I came across an ad on Gumtree advertising two vintage recliners. They were advertised at $60.00 each. The photos were dark and unclear but there was just enough there to make me think that the chairs were something different.

I contacted the seller to ask if I could buy one of the chairs. She informed me that the chairs were already taken. That’s life, so didn’t think much more of it. The next day, however, I received a message that the buyer had pulled the pin and the chairs were available again if I wanted them. What’s more, the seller had identified some issues with the second chair and I could have both for $60.00. Good deal I thought and went to collect.

The chairs were in a bit of a sad state. They had been used as outdoor chairs. Thankfully, they were under some cover, so the damage was only skin deep. One chair was structurally sound but the other chair had a broken leg.

I got the chairs home and made a decision to fix the good one up first. I found a makers mark, indicating that the chairs had been constructed in 1977. The vinyl on the chairs was in relatively good condition given the age and that they had been outside but some splits were visible. I picked the best pieces from both chairs and ended up with good vinyl for one chair that had the look of aged leather.


I pulled apart the good chair as much as possible without interfering with the joints. The vinyl had left a nasty black funk on some of the wood, which took elbow grease with soap and water to remove. There was inconsistent fading on the armrests where the vinyl had been. Overall though, the chair was solid with only minor bumps and scratches.

I proceeded with removing the lacquer. Firstly with paint remover and then with fine grade sandpaper. I was very pleased to find a lovely grain underneath that just needed some love. I willnote that, by definition, what I am doing is refinishing and not restoration but I consider the term is used for both these days.

After completing the sanding, I ran over the wood with fine steel wool. Even at this stage, the beauty of the chair was starting to become clear. I then coated the chair with two coats of Danish oil. I prefer to put the oil on before I reassemble to make sure all surfaces are coated equally.

I started to put the chair back together to find that the vinyl armrests were a little too retro. The look without the armrests was far more vintage/mid-century and far more attractive.

I have decided to list the completed chair for sale. I have full confidence I will get my money back and more as it has come up so nicely. A bit more money to contribute to my retirement fund I hope.

I have kept the damaged chair to repair and restore. As it has the worst of the vinyl, I intend to recover in fabric for a mid-century aesthetic. Upholstery is not currently amongst my skill sets as yet, so we will have to wait and see on that one. Once complete, I will post for critique.