Before you do anything, you'll need to sand your chest back to its raw state – in our case, raw pine. We used an electric sander (don't forget your ear and eye protection) with 120-grit sandpaper to remove all the old gloss and varnish. If you only have a block and some sandpaper, that's fine too. Sanding back the surface removes any old finishes and allows a clean slate for new products or paint to be applied. Once you're done, wipe away the dust with a damp cloth, and wait for it to dry.
Now we've brought our chest back to its original state, we can see how pretty the wood grain is. We want to keep this look, so we're using two coats of a clear varnish. Simply pour your varnish into a paint tray and apply using a paintbrush to the fine details first, then a roller for the larger areas. If you want a slightly darker finish, you may want to consider using three coats. Or if you'd like to paint your chest, now's the time to do that.
Our chest is pretty heavy and not really suitable for little fingers, so we added a safety hinge to allow for easy opening and closing. These are technically called pneumatic stays. Ask your friendly Bunnings worker to point you in the right direction in-store – there are various sizes to choose from, so you'll find one that fits.
Before you affix your hinge, mark up where you'd like it to go using a tape measure and your pencil. Once you've done this, drill some pilot holes. The drill bit size required for your screw will usually be marked on the pack, but if it's not, us a drill bit with a slightly bigger diameter. Attach the circular piece of your stay first before you attach the hinge – if you don't do this separately you won't be able to screw your hinge in properly.
Using the screws from your pneumatic stays kit, screw in your main hinge. Once you've done this, you'll notice your chest now opens and closes with ease.
Measure where you want your handle to go – best to measure the length of your chest, then mark up the middle point. Use a drill to drill a hole for the handle, then use a screwdriver to screw in and tighten.
And you're done! How easy was that? No more jammed fingers! And you've now got a nice, safe place for kids to stow their toys.