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The Easiest Way to Revitalize an Old Tobacco Basket

Today, we’re sharing the easiest way to revitalize an old tobacco basket in case you have one at home in need of refreshing or you fall in love with one that looks like it was freshly plucked from an old barn or you find one at your favorite outdoor antique event.

I can’t remember how many years I’ve had this old tobacco basket, but it’s been a while.  I was at an “off the radar” estate sale when I noticed the tobacco basket hanging up in the rafters of the garage.  Several people had asked the owner of the home if the tobacco basket was for sale and she all but immediately said no to every single one of them.

Let me just give you a tip when you’re shopping outdoor events or private estate sales – the nicer you are to the vendors, the nicer they will be to you.  Not always, but a good portion of the time the vendors have searched, traveled, hauled, cleaned, painted, restored, tagged, and hauled it all back again to gather and set up a space of goodies they’re attached to or they know their customers will be attached to. It’s a lot of work and in a weird way, it can be kind of emotional too.

Of course, having an authentic tobacco basket was on my wish list but I was there for a few pieces of furniture. And after hearing the homeowner turn down offer after offer, I didn’t even bother asking her if it was for sale. I mean, it didn’t seem like she really wanted to sell it anyway.

So, imagine my surprise when I was finishing the deal for the last piece of furniture and the homeowner said, “Farmhouse decorating! These city slickers wouldn’t even know an authentic farmhouse if it fell on them,” a little too loud and I burst out laughing.

Well, that laughter led into an entire conversation about families that lead a real farm life, how hot it is to actually work a tobacco field in the summer and what it feels like when someone is trying to be funny and flicks a tobacco worm that lands on your arm.

Needless to say, I not only came home with the furniture I was after, I also came home with a tobacco stringer, barnwood from the smokehouse, antique minnow buckets, antique frames, a linen coverlet and the beloved tobacco basket.

As we were loading up the truck, the homeowner said, “I was bound and determined not to let my family’s things go until I found someone who would treasure them as much I do.  I hope these make you happy for years to come as they have me.”

Cue some pretty big hugs and the realization downsizing can be tough no matter what your age or circumstances.

I hung the tobacco basket on the wall in the dining room a few days later and as you can see, we’ve enjoyed it in every season for years now.

I never thought about revitalizing the tobacco basket until I decided to repaint the dining room.  I was taking if off the wall and noticed the wood was really starting to dry out.  Antique tobacco baskets are made from split oak and while they usually age to a beautiful weathered gray, my tobacco basket was starting to look like a dusty prop in farmhouse style restaurant.

This tobacco basket was not in perfect shape when I got it, so I knew I needed to take extra care when bringing it back to life.  Here’s a look at the easiest way to revitalize an old tobacco basket…

Revitalizing an Old Tobacco Basket Supplies:

  • Tobacco Basket
  • Tarp (to protect your surfaces)
  • Brush or Vacuum (with a brush attachment)
  • Hemp Oil (we used Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint Hemp Oil)
  • Natural-Bristle Brush
  • Old Cotton Cloths
  • Gloves (to protect hands against splinters)

Revitalizing an Old Tobacco Basket Steps:

Step 1: Lay a tarp down on your work area surface and gather your supplies.

Step 2: Gently clean your old tobacco basket with a brush or the brush attachment from your vacuum cleaner.  I used a brush first, then followed up by using our Dust Buster just to make sure the tobacco basket was free from dirt and debris.

Step 3: Use a brush to apply hemp oil to each oak strip on the tobacco basket. Keep in mind a little hemp oil goes a long way.

Step 4: Work in sections (we started with the back first), until hemp oil has been applied to the tobacco basket.

Step 5: After about 10 minutes, use a cotton cloth to wipe away any excess hemp oil.  This is where you’ll need to use gloves to protect against splinters.

Step 6: Because a finished piece may take several days to cure, we allowed the back of the tobacco basket to dry overnight before flipping the basket over and applying hemp oil to the front of the tobacco basket.

Step 7: Allow your revitalized tobacco basket to cure for several days.  Make sure you’ve wiped away any excess oil and your tobacco basket is completely dry before hanging it back on the wall. Oak wood has tannins of browns and reds, so you want to be extra careful they do not stain your walls.

I hung our revitalized tobacco basket back in the dining room in the exact same spot it had been hanging before, only this time, I’ll know to keep a better eye on how fast it’s drying out.  It will need a light coat of hemp oil every other year or as needed.

If you’ve been following along on our dining room makeover journey, you know we decided not to reuse the three tired metal stand that was holding our collection of brown and white transferware.

Instead, we’re repurposing a small buffet we had been using as a nightstand in one of the bedrooms. My Dad was able to it shore up so I could paint it and you guys, the buffet looks completely different now. I’ll share the transformation with you tomorrow! Until next time, I’ll see you on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.

Many blessings,

CoCo

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5 Comments

  1. Wow, Coco this really warms this wood up. I had no idea hemp oil was so easy to use. I had to laugh when you said it looked like a dusty prop in a farmhouse style restaurant because I look at the props in Cracker Barrel all the time. Can you use hemp oil on furniture too?

    1. ha ha I do the same thing, Sarah! Sometimes, I even look to see if I have the same pieces. I love that place. Yes, you can use hemp oil on furniture you’ll just need to read the back of the label and make sure to follow the directions carefully. We used Miss Mustard Seed’s Hemp Oil and it was very easy to apply. Let us know how you do, CoCo

  2. I have one in similar shape to yours and I had no idea what to do with it because it was kind of brittle. I think this is a great solution for me too, thank you.

    1. You are so welcome, Bonnie! I would just caution you to be careful when you’re applying the hemp oil and removing the excess. Several of the brittle pieces that were barely hanging on finally broke off while during this process. It’s not really surprising because of the age of this piece but I just wanted to give you a heads up before you get started. Hugs, CoCo

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