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. While she is in rough space it is project I have been looking forward to completing for a while now.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. By using modern technology inside, but still keep a majority of it’s beautiful vintage charm it will update this piece to be more practical and useful in today’s home. Plus it will be functional and conversation piece in any room you place it.As 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, so I opted to go with a dark custom blended stain I mixed up myself. This allowed me to cover the burned wood damage and still have a pretty rustic looking finish which would have been present during the time period of the radio. The 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. Which there were several different types of when I started to sand. This could be problematic if you plan of going with a lighter stain. Since I was going darker, not so much. Once I had gotten the sheen and lacquer 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 pecan, cherry tone. The gray add a funky dusty look which was kind of antiquey, by way of you never dusted it. While 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 TrueTone window screen as well. I personally felt the color of the window clashed with the honey tones of the original cabinet.As 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 tells a story, where before they were clearly were heavy damage to the piece. This color reminds me a bit of my parents of Danish furniture, which dated back to 1940’s- 1950’s, so that is what made me really land on this color.I 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. The front speaker fabric was also badly damaged as well, so we opted to replace the screen with a metal screen from a local home improvement store located in the hardware section. I opted for the screen in a black color just to keep it basic and hide the speakers we were adding into the cabinet. After we cut the screen to size with a pair of tin snips, we simply tacked it into the cabinet with our brad nailer, or you could use a staple gun. It was such a simple fix. Just make sure you secure it tightly so it does not rattle when you crank up the volume of the speakers. I know my Bose speakers are no joke and will shake the house, which is probably why I deaf now, so we really had to secure this screen. Since the radio did not have any speakers,when we purchased it but we were able to repurpose a really nice set of Bose 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. Like I said I used to really rock the house out with tower unit stereo, our previous neighbor hated us when I would get on tear! It was like living next to Hollywood Bowl, LOL!We 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. I also recently purchased a Bluetooth record player for all of my vintage vinyl so that is fun little add for this unit as well. Once 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. Since our area is prone to those on a regular basis. This 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. The tape was a quick buy on Amazon and installed in with double sided tape.While 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. I feel like the fairy Godmothers in Sleeping beauty, pink no blue, no pink, no blue. Here 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. It is also thee perfect little cozy spot to have a cocktail and listen to old vintage vinyl and tunes. We have had several neighbors visit and enjoy the drinks and tunes in this very room. We may have even inspired a few to create a room or radio of their very own. Which is what this blog is all about, sharing creative ideas.I must say I really love the stylization, and it is the perfect retro vibe for this space. It really is a nice way to unwind at the end of the day, while sipping your whiskey or if you wish bourbon; which I feel might be on the way out, since it has had it’s day. I for one am really into Mezcal these days, but to each their own. Just 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. Well 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!