Happily Hughes | Atlanta Fashion & Lifestyle Content Creator

Surprise Guest Blogger- Sarah from DIYstinctly Made

I am so excited to introduce my dear friend Sarah from DIYstinctly Made!  We’ve known each other since high school and she has always been very handy, artsy and crafty.  I’m not very good at anything home improvement wise so I wanted to bring to your attention someone who is!  Here’s her blog post on refinishing the perfect rustic nursery bookshelf.  Is anyone else’s ovaries aching??


Refinished Rustic Nursery Bookshelf

When my beautiful friend, Jessica, of Happily Hughes asked me to guest blog I was thrilled! I’m so excited to bring my DIY obsession to a whole new set of eyes!

I’ll start with a short introduction. My name is Sarah, married to Kurt, Boehringer. We live in the small town of Alexandria located in Central Louisiana. In college, I opted for the “do what you love” degree where Kurt went with the “anything to get me out of college,” degree.  Needless to say, we aren’t rolling in the dough and as a result, we are insane cheapos who rely on DIY projects for our home improvements. In this economy, who can’t benefit from saving a few dollars, right? After a few projects, we realized how much we actually enjoyed working together, and now we’re DIY-ing like crazy.

When Jessica asked me to guest blog, I knew exactly what I would blog about. A couple of month’s ago I scored an old pie safe that was an “okay” condition. It was the seller’s stepfather’s great grandfather’s piece (still with me?) so really it was in great shape for it’s age.
Here it is:

Isn’t it gorgeous?!

Kurt and I are not yet trying to start a family, but it’s something we talk about from time to time. Regardless of the sex of our one-day baby, I know I want a “rustic” themed nursery. When I saw this pie safe with shelving I knew it would be perfect for a nursery bookshelf.
Let me just say that Kurt was out of town when I did this project. So all you ladies out there, know that you can Do-It-Yourself!
Tools I used to Refinish Our Rustic Nursery Bookshelf
  • Krud Kutter Original Cleaner/Degreaser
  • Old rag
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Orbit sander
  • 120 grit sand paper
  • ½ inch screws
  • Power drill
  • Wood drill bit   
  • Wood flat drill bit
  • Phillips head screwdriver bit (cross shape)
  • Elmer’s wood glue
  • Minwax stainable/sandable wood filler
  • Formby’s clear tung oil
  • 8oz white latex paint sample

How I Refinished Our Rustic Nursery Bookshelf

Being close to 100 years old, this piece had a nice layer of dirt/dust and an expected musky stench. I started by cleaning the entire piece, inside and out, with Krud Kutter Original Cleaner/Degreaser. This stuff works wonders cutting through dirt and grime with ease. I sprayed on, let sit for a minute or so and wiped off with an old wet rag dipping in soapy water every so often. When I saw how beautiful the wood looked wet, I knew I wanted to try a tung oil finish to saturate, not stain, the wood.


Next, I removed the center panels from the doors. They were made from a lesser quality of wood and were warped from obvious exposure to moisture. I wasn’t too upset to lose these since I thought it would be nice to be able to see through the doors anyways. I used a flat head screwdriver to pry off the trim, bent the exposed nails down, and removed the panels. I toyed with the idea of replacing these panels with chicken wire to keep with the rustic theme, but then I realized that probably would be the best thing when a 10-month-old (or however old) baby is starting to pull up… so glass it was. I would still get the look I was going for without the risk of any little fingers getting caught. I measured the panels and got two pieces of glass cut to size at Lowe’s for $8 a piece.




The top of this pie safe was warped, and as a result, the corners lifted away from the base.


I pried off the top by hammering upward (from below) until all sides were lifted. When the top came off it was apparent how bad of shape this piece was in as the sides of the base started to fall away from one another.


Lowe’s offers free woodcutting (with purchase) in addition to free glass cutting (with purchase), so on the same trip I got a new top cut to size. However, when I got home and placed the new top in place I wasn’t feeling it.  

Since I wasn’t planning on staining the entire piece I would have to try to match the new top. I didn’t want to risk it. I decided to try using the existing top flipped. Surprisingly, flipped over, the gap between the top and the base appeared smaller.

Before putting the top on, I applied wood glue in between the sides that were falling apart to add stability.



Previously, the top was nailed to the base with finish nails but I want to pull the two pieces together… so I opted for 1 ½ inch screws. I sat my big booty on top to help weigh down the warped top when screwing. Who knew I would actually be grateful for my junk in the trunk? I drilled holes through the top and into the base around the perimeter of the top using a power drill and drill bit. Next, I drilled holes to allow the screw heads to sink below the surface of the wood with a ¼ inch flat drill bit. Finally, I attached the top with screws using a phillips head screwdriver bit and power drill.


After the screws were in, I filled the holes with stainable/sandable wood filler.


Once the panels were removed and the top was firmly screwed on, I used my almighty orbit sander and sanded the entire outside with 120 grit sand paper. After sanding, I prayed with Krud Kutter again and wiped with an old rag to remove all sawdust.

Once dried, I applied Formby’s Clear Tung Oil according to the package label. I’ve read online that pure tung oil I food safe and good for butcher blocks, wood bowls, and cribs, however Formby’s is a thinned varnish and not actually pure tung oil. Once dried and cured, though, Formby’s is “food safe.” Allow at least a week for the Formby’s topcoat to cure before steady use around baby. Since there are no babies in our immediate future, we were able to put it to use after the 24-hour drying period.



For the inside, I watered down some white latex paint I used for a previous project and applied a white wash. You want it thin enough to spread but thick enough to stick to the wood… about the consistency of whole milk. By not sanding the inside, I left a rough texture, which made for an awesome white washed finish.


With the addition of new handles at $1.48 a piece from Lowes, this pie safe has been transformed into the perfect DIYstinctly Made nursery bookshelf for our one-day nursery.  I finished it off by inserting the glass panels into the doors and bending the existing nails back to hold them in place.

Here is the end result… rustic and gender neutral. What do you think?





4 thoughts on “Surprise Guest Blogger- Sarah from DIYstinctly Made”

  1. That looks so awesome – nice work, Sarah! I've been following you both via your posts on Facebook and love to see what you're doing. Sarah, you've been giving me the itch to try some projects for myself!

  2. great review! I have actually read a lot of your blog posts in the last hour. I really enjoy what you are doing here. (And as a writer of fantasy novels, I'm enjoying looking at different aspects of that when you go through them in blog post). And truly, I love world-culture building.

  3. I have read your post. Informative and interesting which we share with you so i think so it is very useful and knowledgeable. I would like to thank you for the efforts. I am tiring the same best work from me in the future as well.

  4. I am so excited. I’m a big fan of everything in his place. Half of the time it still gets the wrong place. I think your post is really interesting and has great information. Thank you for your sharing.

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