If you have followed along for any amount of time, you know I have a "thing" for mid-century furniture...and walnut.
I just love the clean lines of the pieces and how sturdy they are. You can not buy furniture today that is as durable and sturdy as many of these 50-60 year old pieces. Well, I guess you can, but you will pay a pretty penny for them!
And walnut? Well, in my opinion, there isn't a more beautiful wood grain out there.
A few months ago I featured a beautiful mid-century dresser I refinished and put in "Mitchell's room." I knew it was a tad big for the room, but I just could not resist.
As strange luck would have it, I was cruising Craigslist and found the matching chest. It just so happens that the people who owned the flea market where I originally purchased the dresser were selling the matching chest. Wow. What are the odds!
I actually ended up paying a tad more for the chest than I did the dresser...and it was in a little rougher shape structurally.
One of the big "boo-boos" on this piece was some pretty substantial chipping on the veneer of the top drawer corners....
Several of the drawers had missing or broken bottom "glides" and one had been VERY poorly repaired! (Hence, THIS rant!) And one of the legs was a little whomper-jomped. (Technical term for loose and wobbly)
I can not stress enough how important it is to make proper repairs. People, wood glue and clamps are your friend! I could do a tutorial a day on properly repairing furniture, but truth be told, there are a billion outstanding tutorials online for every imaginable repair. No, DO NOT use nails to secure dislocated dove joints. No, do not use silicone to try to put a drawer back together. No, do not put sheetrock screws in the leg of a dresser that originally had a bolt and clamp. If you don't know how to properly fix it, GOOGLE IT! (or email me...I love telling people what to do!) Seriously, it isn't hard to repair furniture, but if you do it wrong, I promise it won't last...and all the paint and refinishing you did to make the piece "pretty" will be a waste of time!
So, the first thing I had to do was repair and rebuild a few drawer glides. Then I had to fix the leg which required removing the old bolt, filling the hole with wood and glue and then replacing the bolt. Then I had to figure out what to do with the chipped drawer fronts.
Since I had refinished the drawers on the dresser, I really wanted to refinish this piece to match. Since there is really no good way to "rebuild" veneer and then stain it to match, I decided to remove the damage by creating a little "radius" on the corners. Probably not the best thing to do on a style known for it's clean, straight lines. I contemplated just cutting the corners at a 45 degree angle...but naaaaaa.
My goal was to improve the aesthetics a tad and also prevent further damage to the veneer in the future.
I used a paint can to draw a "radius" on the corner....
...then I used my mouse sander with 220 grit paper to carefully sand away the damage and round the corners. This is what I call "sculpting" a piece and it takes time and patience. When sanding, always start with a very smooth grade of sand paper (220-330) and only use a rougher grit if it is absolutely necessary. And ALWAYS sand with the grain!
Other than the chipping, the veneer was in pretty go shape and still intact. If I had used a rougher grit, I risked chipping or damaging the veneer further.
When it was all said and done, it turned out pretty well.
After making all the repairs, I stripped the top, drawers and legs using 1/2 acetone and 1/2 lacquer thinner and steel wool. I knew I wanted to paint the "cabinet" like I did the dresser, so I taped and papered off everything that was going to be left "natural" and sprayed it will Kilz, sanded smooth, wiped it down with a tack cloth, and sprayed it with my favorite spray paint.
The top, drawer fronts and legs were left natural. I didn't apply a stain because I love the look and color of walnut with nothing but clear oil.
I used the same process I use on all stained or natural wood. First I hit it with 0000 steel wool (always WITH the grain) just to smooth it a bit. Then I applied 3-4 coats of Formby's tung oil finish, rubbing it with 0000 steel wool and a tack cloth between each coat.
In all honestly, I really do not need two large dressers in this room. It is just the "guest room" now. But I really can't part with either of these pieces! They are just too beautiful!
Don't turn your nose up at old pieces that need a little time and attention. In the end, if you do it right, they will be well worth it!