It’s Pedicure Time For This Midcentury Mama — How To Fix Rusted Metal Midcentury Leg Caps

by Katy on August 25, 2016 · 12 comments

The following is a reprint of a previously published post. Enjoy!

A recent post on Apartment Therapy asked readers for their best method to refinish metal leg caps, which reminded me of a project I’d been meaning to tackle.

Remember this midcentury bookshelf that I picked up a few months back? (I think I paid something crazy like $2.99 for it!) It had loads of neeto-jets 45° angles, but the metal cap feet were unforgivably rusted out and were hardly worth highlighting.

However, I still had the gold paint pen from my frame project, so I taped off a leg and got to work. I was unsure how it would look, so I started with one of the back legs.

Rusty Feet

Of course, me being myself, I reused the blue painter’s tape with each leg as I am:

  1. Cheap.
  2. Loathe to be wasteful.
  3. Obsessive about how long I can go before replacing new stuff like stupidly expensive painter’s tape.

Blue Tape

The project was actually quite fun, as I set up up in front of an episode of Alias. (J.J. Abrams being my second favorite producer/director after Joss Whedon.)

Hello, Jennifer Garner Sydney Bristow, why no wacky wig today?

Shelf - before

And here’s how incredible the metal leg caps looked after the caresses of my magical golden pen.

Like the necklaces that adorn the chest of Mr. T, nothing but pure golden goodness is allowed.

“I pity the fool who lets their metal leg caps go rusty!”

Happy Feet

I also went ahead and gave the wood a nourishing rubdown with my trusty Aspercreme Restore-A-Finish, which coaxes finished wood  from dry to glossy, while also minimizing scratches and gouges.

Here’s a gratuitous detail shot of the bookshelf.

Hello, lover . . .

Detail Bookshelf

And here’s the shelf all lovely and refurbished.

Now, if all home improvement projects could be this cheap and easy . . .

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

mel August 26, 2016 at 2:09 am



mel August 26, 2016 at 2:15 am

Oops! Anyway, love this – it’s so cool when a little thought and effort makes for such satisfying (& stylish) results!


Emma August 26, 2016 at 3:09 am

Thank you for helping me not throwing my old bookshelves away :D. Great article btw


Jade August 26, 2016 at 5:09 am

Well done! Looks great, Katy.


Jennifer August 26, 2016 at 5:42 am

I do the tape thing too! When my husband asks for tape at work I only give him a 1/2 inch piece and he gets so aggravated. So many things we use too much of in daily life, though. Cleaning products, paper towels, toilet paper, and most all self care products. I only use one good swipe of deodorant per arm and I smell good! I see people globbing that stuff on and it doesn’t work any better. I gues I got way off topic. One more quick off topic, yet frugally appreciated, thing I wanted to mention is Kroger’s Free Friday download today is a free tube of Carmex, any variety! I see a lovely cherry flavored Carmex tube in my future and some of yours!


JD August 26, 2016 at 5:46 am

The legs look great! I used a wood stain pen on a very dark second-hand Ethan Allen desk we bought for our house. It looks so much better with those white scratches covered.


Patti August 26, 2016 at 5:53 am

Great update to your bookcase! It is the small things in life…


tonya parham August 26, 2016 at 5:59 am

Great idea. I wish I could find a nice bookshelf that cheap. Even twice the price! Especially a mid century one. I found one a couple weeks ago with a glass front that was painted (which I didn’t love) that they wanted $120! And it was only about up to my mid thigh!

*sigh* Someday….


Mrs. Picky Pincher August 26, 2016 at 7:29 am

Ooh! Great job! I’ve always wanted to get more into restoring furniture–it’s a great way to have some unique, high quality pieces while spending very little money. We’re moving into our house in two weeks (fingers crossed!), and I can’t wait to have the space to do little projects!


Vickie August 26, 2016 at 7:59 am

Nice job, Katy and thanks for the info on how you did this!!


Evans August 29, 2016 at 2:48 am

I loved the books in the bookshelf. Have read most of them already but found a few new ones for my shelf too. The post is an unofficial book list.


Leslie August 30, 2016 at 1:22 pm

I have this same exact shelf that I found on a trash pile years ago. It currently holds my cookbooks. One of the corners is now pretty damaged thanks to the menace of puppy teeth. A few of the books were afflicted the same way. Fast forward 16 years of not getting around to fixing it, and I can’t bring myself to try and repair the shelf, as the puppy that damaged it lived a long and wonderful life but is now waiting at the Rainbow Bridge.


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