Monday, July 9, 2012

From Alley-find to Pretty Dresser: a DIY adventure


I don't often post DIY projects on my blog, but I had so much fun re-doing this dresser that I just had to share it. 
Although sideways, this is a dresser we found in the alley last summer. It's been living in the basement for a whole year. And this summer I decided to paint it!
I forgot to take a proper "before" picture, but here everything is sanded down and ready to be painted.

I got some grey paint from my friend Laura. The drawers were first. I am very fortunate to live in a building with a drive way-ish space and almost-always empty garage for storing the drying dresser.
Making a stencil for the drawers. I used a folder/sheet protector. I wanted to use both curved and straight lines, to match the wood work of the frame.
Stencil all cut out and ready to use.
Things were going pretty well at this point. And then I ran into a dilemma. When I took off the old hardware, I had every intention of buying new pulls. The screw holes were two inches apart. I thought this was normal. But then I went to both Home Depot and Devon Hardware, and every single pull was 3 inches. Realizing that I was dealing with antique hardware and or something custom made, I decided to fill in one of the holes with Wood Filler and then buy knobs instead.
Holes filled in. Ready to be sanded down and painted over.
Drying in the sun.
Applying the stencil. It was pretty hard. Even with my gentle paint stokes using a sponge brush, I had to go over again with grey to sharpen the edges.
The next step was applying this lovely polycrylic finish. I looked up a few different finishes, and this seemed to be the best. But then when I got to Home Depot, the guy in the paint department didn't think it would work. I trusted my gut and bought it anyway.

Turns out the guy in the paint department was a little right. I must not have sanded the wood enough before I began painting the grey, because the Polycrylic brought out a little brown from the original varnish. Interesting how it does that. Fortunately, it gives the dresser an antique look. I like it.
I applied one coat, using a bristle brush, making wide even strokes. After two hours I lightly sanded the larger surfaces and then applied a second coat.
I let all the pieces sit for another 12 or so hours, then sanded down the bottom edges of each drawer so they wouldn't stick.
The long-awaited knobs. It took two tries going to the hardware store, but I finally found ones I liked and could afford.
Even after sanding the edges, the top drawer was sticking a bit. With a little finagling, I discovered the culprit-- a loose beam.  So, with much stress and a sore thumb, I nailed the top aligning beam back into place (a big thanks to my roommate Becky for helping!), and then it was ready!
Ta-da! The finished dresser!
It will be living in our TV room and be the home of all our blankets and such, much needed in the wintertime.

The whole project cost less than $40!
Dresser: Free from the alley
Grey interior paint: donated by my friends the Grants
Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish: $16.00 from Home Depot

Elmer's Wood Filler: $3.00 from Devon Hardware
Six Brass Knobs: $10.00 from Devon Hardware
Sponge brush: $0.50 from Home Depot
Mini roller and tray: $4.00 from Home Depot
White interior paint, sand paper, wood glue, nails, and bristle brush: left over from previous projects.


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