Refinishing a Vintage Radio with Modern Technology

Antique Radio new home in Library JENRON DESIGNS.jpg

Refinishing a Vintage Radio with Modern Technology

Hi friends today I have a great DIY I am so excited to share! We are refinishing a vintage radio with modern technology, so it can play directly from your phone or tablet like a modern day jukebox.

This is a DIY project that is so near and dear to our hearts and has really been a long time in the making. We honestly started refinishing this beautiful vintage radio almost two years ago, when we purchased it at Lakewood Antiques for a total steal at $60.Getting Antiques Steals JENRON DESIGNS

It has honestly taken it a little while to track down the proper technology to add in to this piece in order to refinish it so it could be used in a more modern fashion with modern technology, but still keep a majority of it’s beautiful vintage charm.Antique Radio Before Refinishing JENRON DESIGNSAs you can see the cabinet itself was not in the best of shape and really just needed to be completely sanded and refinished. Due to some large cigarette burns on the top corners that could not be sanded down I opted to go with a dark custom blended stain I mixed up myself. Antique Radio Empty Cabinet JENRON DESIGNSThe first step was to lightly sand the entire cabinet, these were a few of my favorite supplies that came in handy to get down to base wood.Refinishing Supplies JENRON DESIGNSOnce I had gotten the sheen and laquer off I could then add back in a stain color of my choice. I ended up making my own custom blend of Jacobean and Gray Minwax stains, for a dirty vintage cherry tone.Antique Radio Sanding Cabinet JENRON DESIGNSWhile it is not it’s original honey color, it does tend to cover up all  the burn marks nicely and matches the original copper hardware around the Truntone window screen as well.  I personally felt the color of the window clashed with the honey tones of the original cabinet.Antique Radio After Stain Refinishing JENRON DESIGNSAs you can see below, you can still see a few of the deeper cigarette burns, but they are not nearly as bad as they once were. Now they feel like they are more suited for the piece and tell a story, where before they were clearly heavy damage. Antique Radio After Burn Refinishing JENRON DESIGNSI also like the gray antique hues that are left behind in the crevices that give the illusion of age or dust. I have a bedroom suit with this same antiquing method and still love it to this day. Plus it always looks old and dusty, so you never know if it is dusty, a secret on the cleaning front. Antique Radio Adding Mesh Speaker Screen JENRON DESIGNS The front speaker mesh was also badly damaged as well, so we opted to replace the screen with a metal screen from a local hardware store in a black color just to keep it basic and hide the speakers we were adding into the cabinet.Tacking In Mesh Speaker Screen JENRON DESIGNSAfter we cut the screen to size with a pair of tin snips, we simply tacked it into the cabinet with our brad nailer. It was such a simple fix. Adding Bose Speakers JENRON DESIGNSThe radio did not have any speakers, but we were able to repurpose a real nice set of Boston Acoustic speakers we already owned, that just happened to fit and sound great in this cabinet. All we had to do was add in some shelves to house the set. Antique Radionew Technology JENRON DESIGNS.jpgWe also added in a bluetooth tuner that will sync to our smart devices. We can easily set our ipad right on top with a fun playlist for the evening, or a party like a modern day jukebox.Replace the Back JENRON DESIGNSOnce everything was inside we reattached the original back on the radio just to keep all the wires protected. We also ran a new surge protector to keep it safe from any power surges we might get these days.Antique Radio Closeup Before Refinishing JENRON DESIGNSThis is actually a 1937 radio and does still have all the original bulbs and pieces intact, however we opted not to used them at this time, and simply add in LED glow tape to simulate color changing glow for the Truetone window.Antique Radio with color changes LEDs Blue JENRON DESIGNSWhile green was the original dial tone, we can change the colors with the season now. However I tend to like the retro orange tone, while Ron does like the classic green.  It is a good thing that with a click of remote we can easily change this option.Antique Radio with color changes LEDs JENRON DESIGNSHere she is in her new home, the Books and Bourbon Library. The acoustics are really nice in this room for the music and it echos nicely into the dining room and living room as well. Library with Antique Radio JENRON DESIGNS.jpgThe stylization is perfect for the retro vibe, and it really is a nice way to unwind while sipping your whiskey or bourbon. You can put on a little Sinatra or some Jazz and really feel that speakeasy 1930’s feel, it is really fun. Plus the sweet glow from the radio is a romantic little night light too. Antique Radio in Books & Bourbon Library JENRON DESIGNS.jpgWell I hope you have enjoyed this little DIY, I know we have, even if it took a while to complete. We considered it a labor of love and really great weekend hobby project during this crazy pandemic. Hopefully this will inspire you to do something fun too, who knows you may just create a vintage work or art like we did!

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Refinishing VIntage Radio with Modern Tech JENRON DESIGNS

LOVE THIS PROJECT? Want to see more of my easy furniture refinishing projects check them out here:

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DIY a Deconstructed Sofa

Refinishing A Rustic Side Table

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  1. Karletta

    I love it when old world meets new. What a beautiful piece for your home.

  2. Wow! This is an amazing transformation. I often go to vintage shops and see so many things that could look so good with a transformation but I’m not that type of creative. You’re amazing! I really like the color you gave it, it looks very modern but still has its vintage charm.

  3. Digitaldaybook

    Wow what a gorgeous piece! Love love love it so much!

  4. Another Wow! It looks so stunning afterward. I love the step-by-step guides. I am definitely going to do this with one of my old radios similar to what you have in the picture! Thank you for the ideas! But then again, you never let us down with all your designs and inspiration! 🙂

  5. Jenny

    Such a brilliant idea! You are one clever woman 🙂

  6. Wow you did a great job, it looks beautiful! And the changing LED lights are a nice touch.

  7. Krista

    This is really an awesome idea and it looks amazing! Great job! I really like that you show us each step and the tools you used. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Bella

    Wow turned out so good! what a fab job. looks great in your home

  9. Mama Maggie's Kitchen

    Oh wow! I love the outcome of this vintage radio! It’s so beautifully done.

  10. Wow this is amazing!! I love how you where able to beautify it nicely

  11. Wow, this is incredible! I love the final result

  12. Viano

    You have got to be kidding me! It legit looks brand new and the idea of changing colours to match the season… Awesome! Great job!

  13. This is genius! I love the finished product.

  14. Oh my goodness! What a find!?! And also so great that you could bring it back to life so that it’s more than just a statement piece.

  15. My mom has one such radio. I got inspired to refinish it. I am definitely saving this for later.

  16. This is such a cool project! My grandparents had a beautiful old radio in their living room I would have loved being able to do something like this to! Thanks for the great project!

  17. This is so pretty! What a cool and unique project to keep such a classic piece. Love the vibe with it too.

  18. Wow that’s a fantastic transformation and it looks just perfect in that room.

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