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.
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.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 I opted to go with a dark custom blended stain I mixed up myself. 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.Once 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.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 Truntone 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 tell a story, where before they were clearly heavy damage. 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 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.After 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. The 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. 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.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.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.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.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. The 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. 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!