The other day I posted this picture of an old nasty dresser and three legged table I salvaged at the apartments. People move and just leave their "stuff." Most of the stuff is garbage and goes straight to the dumpster or trailer. But eeeeevery once in awhile I will find something that is salvageable.
My new onsite manager and her husband are in need of furniture so when we ran across this rather nasty, yet very sturdy, oak dresser I promised her I could make it something she would love. I asked her what "style" she wanted....she told me it would be going
into her spare room which is also her husband's "Nascar" room...could I
do something in black and white checkers? Ummmmmmm....no. That's
okay, she has "checkered flag" knobs she can put on it. (I guess my football and baseball decor is odd to some...but come on, those are REAL sports....lol!)
I will say, this piece was a challenge! Some serious damage to the exterior as well as missing backs on two of the drawers....it took some serious "reconstruction" but that gives me an opportunity to share with you how easy this can be.
Before beginning ANY rehab on old pieces, make sure you wipe them down with some type of disinfectant wipe. Sometimes that means a little bit of scrubbing...but decades of grunge, oils and smoke can create problems down the road...not to mention, it's nasty!!!
Glue, clamps and a nail gun are a must when repairing old furniture. First and foremost you want your furniture to be sturdy and usable if you are going to invest time and money making it wonderful again!
First, you need to pry apart any "loose" joints, remove any old glue and fasteners and reglue and clamp. Two drawers were missing the backs...so I took out the bottom, cleaned out the channel where the drawer bottom fit, reglued, cut a new back out of 1/2" plywood....
and clamped and tacked it with some little nails. Keep in mind, nails are not what holds a piece of furniture together....it's the glue. The little nails just help secure it until the glue sets up!! Glue well and clamp! (Occasionally you will get a nail that does the above...pull it out from the back with needle nose pliers....and remember, nails WILL penetrate flesh (again, lesson learned the hard way) so keep your fingers out of the way!)
Also, many drawers on older pieces have dovetail joints....and in a perfect world we would all be able to dovetail new pieces to fit right back in with the old...but that is most often not the case. If the "old" backs had been there, that is what I would have done....cleaned them up, reglued, fit them back together and clamped. But since they weren't, I used my skill saw to cut off the dovetails from the sides and then just added a new back without dovetails. If you don't know what a dovetail is (no, it is not the tail of a dove) Google it...
This is also the time to repair any damage to the veneers and corners. As you can see on this piece, a dog had used the corners as a chew bone and the veneer on the base was chipped badly. Wood filler, a little sculpting and sanding do the trick. This takes patience and may even take 2-3 attempts to "get it right." Let the filler dry completely before attempting to sand. But in the end it is worth the effort....just sanding and painting damaged wood is NOT good.
After all your repairs are made and everything feels sturdy, sand the entire piece with 120-220 sand paper, tack and get ready to prime. I have posted a complete tutorial here on painting furniture that will help you through this process. But I can not stress enough the importance of wiping down the entire piece with tack cloth before you spraying ANYTHING on it!
If this piece were going in a more "formal" bedroom, I would glaze the carvings. But they want a more "informal" piece...with checkered flag knobs...to each his own...lol!
Regardless, it is a nice piece of furniture that was destined for the dumpster...instead it has been given new life and a new purpose....and will be much loved and appreciated for many more years!