Thursday, June 27, 2013

A triumphant return DIY!

*trumpet fanfare!* a new blog post! will this be the start of something? ... I'm not making any promises.

but I did have to share what I think may be my first real DIY makeover!

purchased this dresser on craigslist for $30
the seller said it had been his father's growing up, and it was definitely in need of some tlc: chipping veneer, scuff marks, dust inside... but for the price, with its solid wood dovetailed drawers and tarnished brass hardware, the thing was practically begging me to take it home

I love the simple shape - no curves, legs, engraved lines... just sweet, campaign-inspired goodness.
some inspiration pulled from the internets gave me ideas and instructions, so I got down to brass tacks, er, nails and started the renovation asap!

step 1: give that craigslist find a good cleaning!  you don't know where it's been or who it's been sleeping with, so dust, dust, vacuum, and wipe away that history!

step 2: remove the brass corner details

(note: when you need to pry old nails up, make sure all the actual screwdrivers, chisels and such are nowhere to be found.  much better to just use a bike tool that folds and bends with every pry. who really needs the power of leverage, anyway?)

one tip I read online said to just tape the nails to the hardware so they couldn't get lost/misplaced during the process - a great idea and I was immediately on board ... until the end when I realized I wanted to polish all the brass anyway and had to take them out.  never lost a nail or screw though, so still a good tip!

step 3: sand away!  the veneer had a sheen to it and lots of scuffs, scratches and wear from it's past-lives, so a light sanding was in order before primer went on.

step 4: paint!!  I debated about primer, since I was going to be painting the dresser white anyway, but after some research I discovered (I'm a newbie, remember) that a coat or two of primer would allow the paint to adhere better and make for a much more lasting paint job.  if I was going to go all out and do this, I did NOT want the paint chipping off within a year or two!

I think I eventually did two coats of primer with a brush and four or five... or six (light) coats of paint with a foam roller.  I had a slight dilemma after using the brush to prime in that it left obvious brush-marks, and I was sort-of hoping for a smooth lacquer-like finish.  light sanding didn't seem to get rid of the brush-marks, and I kept getting through to veneer so I eventually accepted the texture and just rolled with it. literally.

why so many coats of paint? I don't really know. the projects lasted longer than it should have due to the fact that we live in Colorado and were experiencing an early-summer phenomena not seen in our east-coast homeland: cottonwood fluff.

this stuff's just great when you're painting, staining and refinishing your furniture in your driveway. floats on the air like bubbles. wonderful.

despite complications, work continued.

step 5: sand the sheen off those drawers!  while I wasn't too fond of the shine, I was pretty impartial when it came to the wood-tone.  I didn't hate the medium brown, but I have been leaning towards lighter, natural or weathered wood over dark stains.  I really liked the tone once I sanded the old stain off, and would have left them that way if it weren't for the uneven stain marks, so I moved on to the next step (while knowing I could always sand it all off again if I really wanted).

step 6: condition and stain.  upon application of the wood conditioner, the wood instantly returned to a honey-brown shade, so I'm pretty sure the only way I'd get light/ash-gray tones would be to poly-seal it immediately after sanding... oh well, I can love this!

step 7: polish the hardware.  I used good ol' Barkeeper's Friend, but with the notches and corners on these things, it was not quick and easy... scrub, scrub, scrub... just look at that gleam coming through on the right!

step 8: (not pictured) seal it to protect it.  I used a spray on polyurethane sealant (Varathane) that was water-based for a faster drying time.  I probably lightly sprayed the dresser 4 times and the drawers 3 ... maybe they could use another coat... but the husband was antsy for it to be done and moved in, so done it was deemed!

(another note: in your haste to see how the drawers look in the dresser once refinished, do refrain from pushing them all the way in until you've reattached the handles and pulls. designed for a flush, smooth front when closed, they are not easy to pry out. oops)

in the end, it was all so worth it and I'm very pleased with the results.  now to fill it up and style the top... as soon as i organize the rest of the room!