Refinishing a Woodstove for Decorative Purposes

I had planned to write today’s post about animal husbandry, or – more accurately – my plan for hatching chicks this spring, which may be a bit unconventional; however, after a long weekend of wedding crafting, I’m too eager to share my latest project, a refinished wood stove.

Since I try to keep Monday’s posts more related to gardening, chickens and general homesteading, this post might feel like a bit of an anomaly; however, all of the steps I followed here could be used in fixing a regular wood stove, with the addition of stove cement, which I elected not to apply, given the age and wear on our parlor stove — making it look safer than it is might, someday, cause someone to try to start a fire in it, when at this point in its life (and given how many scary cracks and ill fitting old parts it has) it is likely better suited as a planter, anyway.

One thing that convinced me that we needed to rescue this lady from the shed (which is now our chicken coop) was all of her wonderful lines and delicate details.

The materials for this project were relatively simple:
*Old Wood Stove in Need of Love
*Wire Welding Brush
*Williams’ Stove Polish
*Metallic Paint
*Stove Cement & Sand Paper (if Refinishing a Functional Stove)

And the steps… were, delightfully, even easier

  1. I started by equipping myself for this project.  Given that I was working in our basement and welding brushes carry a warning on them (I assume for lead content), I wore heavy work gloves with leather guards, safety glasses and a dust mask.  For the purpose of full disclosure, I also wore a wool cap, as the basement was a balmy 38 degrees.
  2. Jason & a friend had brought the stove down into our basement about two weeks ago, and it looked rough enough that I deemed early on that I was restoring it for sentimental and ornamental value, not to be used.  I did this for two reasons: the bottom was nearly rusted out and the sides were perilously thin, even in places that had previously been patched.

    Parlor stove prior to restoration & Abby the helping dog. She headed upstairs before the dust got flying.

  3. First, I disassembled the stove, removing parts of the lid and door that were not rusted in place.  During this phase of the restoration was when I also evaluated the stove’s structural integrity, which I found a bit lacking (perhaps from a few too many very hot fires!

    The parlor stove, completely disassembled. Note the wear on the bottom!

  4. Next, I used a welded wire brush to buff out all of the rust spots.  This smoothed the surface of the stove, allowing for easier polishing later on.
  5. It is at this point in the restoration that you would want to patch any holes and reinforce the stove’s seams with stove cement, if you intend to use the stove for fires.  Stove cement, once applied and dried can be smoothed with sandpaper before the next step.
  6. With a soft cloth, apply the stove polish, working it deep into the cast iron.  Once it has dried, polish off any residue with a clean rag.

    This image provides a great before (right) and after (left) of just what the stove polish does!

  7. Finally, touch up any paint that has aged poorly over time.

    I can't wait to get this upstairs, so I can provide you all a better "after" image, but the affect of three hours of work was pretty stunning!

This project took about three hours, and as soon as the boys carry it back upstairs, I’ll have a lovely addition to my kitchen and a fantastic planter to place at the end of my driveway, full of flowers & yesterday’s signs, on my wedding day!


2 thoughts on “Refinishing a Woodstove for Decorative Purposes

    • That’s what I’m hoping, Katy. It just seemed like such a waste to have it out in a shed, under piles of junk (esp. after we had cleared away all the junk).

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