Need a little furniture makeover to inspire you for the weekend?
Put a little wind in your sails, a little tilt in your kilt?
(Sorry, the second metaphor gave the wrong imagery. lol)
I’ve been having the BEST time puttering away in my garage workshop – enjoying the
relatively fresh air, the sunshine and the glory of a gorgeous before and after. I’ve been futzing away refinishing, building, and finishing, then dreaming about what to build and/or refinish next.
My friend Lisa brought me this beautiful dresser that once belonged to her Grandmother. No, I don’t get to keep it – this antique dresser makeover is a commissioned piece.
I think it’s safe to say we’re looking at a piece that is roughly 100 years old. Solid wood, gorgeous hardware – but beyond that, a family heirloom that she wanted to keep and use.
It just needed a little bit of love – and you know I gots love for wood! (get your mind out of the gutter!)
Just in case you’re thinking about trying this – having an antique refinished by anyone other than a specially licensed refinisher will devalue your piece. In North America it’s not as big an issue as it would be in Europe where pieces can be centuries old, but just in case your Great-Great-Grandparents brought over furniture when they arrived here – you should investigate the value of it before attempting any work.
Lisa wasn’t interested in selling her Grandmother’s dresser, so she was okay with it getting a bit of a facelift.
I won’t show images for every step of the process, but I will tell you what I did for this antique dresser makeover:
- Remove all of the hardware
- Using a chemical stripper, I removed all of the existing furniture polish, varnish and stain
- I sanded it down beginning with a 60 grit paper and working my way up through 120 grit, 180 grit and finally 220 grit. I won’t lie, I couldn’t stop feeling the top of the dresser – it was so smooth. It’s kind of like when you have a branch of pussy willows – you just can’t stop yourself from touching the buds. Lisa, I apologize – my hands were all over your buds.
5. I wiped all of the sawdust off with a damp cloth and then applied a coat of pre-stain wood conditioner to the entire piece. I left it to sit for about 20 minutes and then wiped off any excess with a clean, dry cloth.
6. Using Minwax “Dark Walnut” I applied a coat of stain with a clean brush – smoothing it back and forth with the grain.
7. After letting it sit for about 15 minutes I wiped away the excess and let Lisa decide if it was dark enough or not. (in this case it wasn’t, so after letting the first coat dry for about 6 hours, I applied a second coat following the step above.
8. Once the second coat of stain was completely dry, I applied a varathane finish and let dry.
9. Lightly sand the varathane down with a 320 grit sandpaper, remove all dust with a tack cloth and then apply a second coat on high-traffic areas.
Once completely dry, I finished out the antique dresser makeover with a wet 400 grit sandpaper and lightly smoothed the surface and check out this baby now!
Lisa opted for new hardware – but the handles were stolen out of her car by some PITA looking for change.
Pretty good makeover even without handles don’t you think?
We kept the integrity of the original piece by sticking with a stain to show off the gorgeous wood – and we even put the original keyhole detail back on.
I did add a few upgrades to the dresser like staining the drawer sides to match, and the insides of the drawers were sanded smooth and the new hardware was countersunk into the drawer backs to as not to catch on clothing.
Can you tell I LOVE this antique dresser makeover? I don’t want to give it back!
This took about 6.5 hours from start to finish (labour time – not including drying time) – so it’s totally doable by anyone.
I might suggest starting with something a little less valuable than a family heirloom though…
OH! I have to show you the new varnish I tried:
It is FANTASTIC on brown wood stains! Really thick, self-leveling and one coat is the equivalent of three coats of regular varathane! I won’t lie – it’s pricey at $31 Cdn per quart, but it saves you so much work and the finish is gorgeous.
One last thing – if you are working with a grey stain, it will yellow it slightly – as any varathane would – but being triple thick, you will notice the yellowing more with this than you would with a single coat of regular varathane. You’ll see tomorrow how I know this….
Have a great one!