Help! Termites ate my Trunk



Rehabbing a termite infested trunk

I hope you’re not bored yet with me talking about my flea market finds from August. I did warn you that my  many finds would be the foundation for my fall projects.  I even showed you a picture of this trunk, a wonderfully aged trunk who had the terrible misfortune of getting just a little too close to a termite colony.

Don’t worry he is NOT currently termite infested, all the little critters have moved on but they did manage to take a good portion of the trunk with them.

Rehabbing a termite infested trunk

When my sister and I first saw this trunk, this is what we saw.  It was marked $3.00, FIRM…as if we were going to try to talk him down from $3.00.

Was that some kind of mistake?  Was it supposed to be $30.00?  Was the decimal point in the wrong spot? And then we looked inside.  OK, this could be a problem.

Undeterred, my sister made the purchase but I told her that I would love to tackle this project if she’d let me.  He definitely needed a lot of love.

Rehabbing a termite infested trunk

By the time she handed him off to me and I got him home, he was already fading fast.  

He is sitting in a wheelbarrow because I was kind of scared to pick him up…what more is going to fall off?

A couple more boards had fallen off of the bottom from when I had first seen him at the flea market and I was beginning to wonder what I had seen in him.

Rehabbing a termite infested trunk

Now I remembered, it was his beautiful chippy paint. At this point I had high hopes of saving some of the boards that make up the bottom trim.

Rehabbing a termite infested trunk

Unfortunately, that was just not going to happen. Once I had pulled off the trim pieces, I could see the full extent of the damage.  

I don’t know if you can see the bug holes underneath the trim board, but inside that board it is pretty much sawdust.

At this point I knew the entire bottom would have to go, from the trim board down.  If you look closely at the picture above you’ll see I drew a cut line around the entire trunk.

Rehabbing a termite infested trunk

Out came the saw. Sad to see so much of the trunk gone but look how pretty the edge is now.

Rehabbing a termite infested trunk

Overall view of the inside of the trunk looking in from the nonexistent bottom.  Just a little bit more of the termite damage shows on the left side, but overall, he is ready for his makeover.

Rehabbing a termite infested trunk

I needed just a few supplies…a 2’x4′ piece of thin plywood, 2 deck spindles and some heavy duty construction adhesive.

I cut the plywood to fit inside the trunk up to the level where the old bottom had been.  I then used the construction adhesive and a few nails to hold the plywood in place while it dried.

Rehabbing a termite infested trunk

I cut the deck spindles the same height as the plywood.  These also got a good coat of construction adhesive and a few long screws to attach them to the existing wood trunk.

Rehabbing a termite infested trunk

Rehabbing a termite infested trunk

I was originally going to use 2 pieces of wood…one to act at the original layer of the trunk and the other to be the trim…but once I saw how well the 2×4 fit, I couldn’t use anything else. It was perfect.  Corners are nailed and glued.   Screws attach the 2×4 to the spindles and construction adhesive to the plywood.

Rehabbing a termite infested trunk

I cut a couple of pieces of pallet wood the width of the trunk and screwed them to the corner spindles.

Rehabbing a termite infested trunk

The trunk is now turned over.  Can you tell that the pieces of pallet wood form a ledge on the inside of the trunk?

Rehabbing a termite infested trunk

To that newly formed ledge I cut pallet wood to fit and I cut small notches to go around the corner spindles.

With finishing nails and my nail gun, I attached the pallet wood to the bottom ledge.

Rehabbing a termite infested trunk

Paintable caulk fills in all the gaps.

Rehabbing a termite infested trunk

A coat of baby blue chalk paint followed by chalk paint wax finishes off the interior of the trunk.

Rehabbing a termite infested trunk

Even though I had used an old 2×4 for the bottom trim and it had a bit of age it still needed a bit more age to match the original trunk.

This is vintage wax (brown), gray paint and just a couple drops of black paint.

Rehabbing a termite infested trunk

That concoction was painted on and rubbed off with a rag.  Dab on more color if needed.

Rehabbing a termite infested trunk

Remember these feet?  These were the feet that originally came with the feedbag ottoman I showed you last week.  I thought they looked better with this project.

I painted the feet with white chalk paint, sanded off the edges then applied a vintage wax.

Rehabbing a termite infested trunk

The feet were screwed on and the 2×4 trim was sanded to not only get rid of splinters but so the edges weren’t so pointy.

Rehabbing a termite infested trunk

There was no way I could reproduce the chippy paint to look as natural as the original.

Instead I opted for layered paint hoping to get somewhere near the original color.

Start out with a thick layer of black chalk paint.  This was really thick chalk paint, the sludgy stuff leftover at the bottom of a jar.  If you don’t have bottom scrapings, allow the chalk paint to dry out a bit before using then spread with a putty knife.

Rehabbing a termite infested trunk

The black was followed by some green acrylic paint.

Why green?  Looking at my flaky paint, there appears to be a layer of green in the original painting.

Rehabbing a termite infested trunk

The green was followed by another coat of thick light blue chalk paint.  To get a thick consistency, I put some chalk paint in a bowl and let it sit out for an hour. Once again, I spread the chalk paint on with a putty knife so there wouldn’t be any brush strokes.

Rehabbing a termite infested trunk

When the paint is dry, but it  hasn’t quite hardened, scrape off some of the paint to reveal some of the layers of paint.  I used a utility blade.

Rehabbing a termite infested trunk

When the paint had a chance to dry overnight, I spread, a vintage wax over all my new paint layers.

All the original chippy paint  on the sides got a coating of wood glue mixed with water…this was a tip from one of my favorite shows, Flea Market Flip.

Rehabbing a termite infested trunk

Before calling this trunk done, I wanted to reinforce the corners just a bit more.  I added a few more decking screws into the sides all the way into each of the corner spindles.

On the left you can see a couple of those screws.   The screws had to be countersunk, filled with wood putty, painted with layers of paint then a coat of vintage wax. Screws gone!

Rehabbing a termite infested trunk

Rehabbing a termite infested trunk

Rehabbing a termite infested trunk

Rehabbing a termite infested trunk

 

Rehabbing a termite infested trunk

Rehabbing a termite infested trunk

Rehabbing a termite infested trunk

Rehabbing a termite infested trunk

Since I started with pictures of the bottom of the trunk, I wanted to finish with a picture of his underside…not a termite to be found!

Have a great week.  Stay inspired.

Shared at Metamorphosis Monday, Wow us Wednesdays,

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15 Comments

  • La Verne says:

    Happy to see that you saw the “awesomeness” of the trunk and persevered to save it. You give the best tutorials-you must have been a teacher.

    Your sign-off is always “stay inspired”. With mentors like you, how can we help it?

    La Verne@hopeandsalvage

  • Ann Davis says:

    Oh my gosh!! This was in my spam folder.

    It turned out AMAZING.
    I wish the guy that sold it could see the after picture.

  • Carole says:

    Love how you saved something that could have ended up in the burn barrel. The white feet bother me though. I think you should have used your magic touch to make them that green color.

    • Joan says:

      I liked the white but they could easily be painted any color.

      I really liked how the person selling this piece decided to haul it out to sell rather than trashing it. It wasn’t like he made a lot of money but I really appreciate it. Definitely, one man’s trash …

  • Linda says:

    Hello,
    What an incredible transformation. I have been showing this to a couple of my friends because they would not believe what could be done with a couple of pieces eaten up that I have.

    If you have time would you please explain the wood glue and water trick to cover the piece?? If you know the recipe with quantities to use I would appreciate it.

    with regards

    • Joan says:

      There really is no magic quantity. Just water down the wood glue until it’s a more workable consistency. You’re looking more for the consistency of paint rather than glue.

  • Colleen says:

    Love the trunk! Like you, I’m so glad the seller saw some firm value in it instead of just tossing it.
    Inquiring minds want to know – are you giving the trunk back to your sister or are you keeping it?

  • tThis is an incredible save. The trunk looks fantastic.

  • Gwen says:

    Great work!!!! Love all of your projects but am very jealous of your talent!!!

  • You single handedly gave me hope for all the things I collect that I don’t think I can actually use. Genius!!!!

    Featured you this upcoming weekend on DIY Salvaged Junk Projects 351. Thanks for linking up! 🙂

  • […] How to revamp a termite infested trunk, by Scavenger Chic […]

  • Tracey says:

    Wow! So inspired by your post…..aste not want not for sure! Loved the educational tutorial.