The chest of drawers from hell...

Last week I told you not to be afraid of a sturdy piece of furniture that needs a little repair.

I think the key word is "little."

THIS monster needed more than a little!

Here is how this happens. I want something at an auction. They open bidding on one item, like this HORRID old dresser. I don't want it but neither does anyone they add something...I don't want that either...neither does anyone they add something...I don't want that either...neither does anyone they add something...I WANT THAT! But in order to get it, I have to take all the other crud. So I ended up with this ratty chest of drawers, a disgusting trash can, a burnt orange smelly couch, and the ONE item I really wanted. I started to leave this chest, but I noticed it did have MOST of it's parts, and some stunning hardware.

It also had a serious case of ugly and some water damaged and splintered veneer on the top and at the bottom.

Hum....I can fix that...all because I thought the hardware was kind of nifty!

Seriously, what was I thinking?

I loaded it up and brought it home and went to work...and work it was. But this is a great opportunity to show you how to make the best out of the worst!

The first thing I did was remove all the drawers (and pieces of drawers) and the hardware and set those aside for the time being. The drawers needed some repair and the hardware needed to be painted. But I had bigger issues to deal with and unless I could deal with those issues, spending time on the drawers and hardware would be a waste of time!

The Normally I would have just removed and replaced the entire top, but structurally the frame on this one solid. It just needed a new plywood top.

So I removed the old plywood top. Not a pretty much popped off. All I had to do was take a chisel and scrape off a few chunks that stuck and some adhesive residue.

I took a piece of 1/8" oak plywood and laid it on the top, face DOWN, and marked the outline of the top with a pencil.

Veneers and plywood WILL "splinter" when you cut the trick is to ALWAYS score it with a sharp utility knife. Once you score it, you will use the appropriate tool (in this case I used a jig saw since the front edge was curved) to cut on the OUTSIDE of your score line. 

I scored on my pencil mark, then cut on the outside of that mark.

Once I had it "rough cut" I applied it to the top frame with wood glue, set some heavy items on it, clamped the edges to the top frame and let it dry over night.

After the glue had dried well, I took a belt sander with 50 grit paper and sanded the edges of the plywood. When I got within 1/8" of the edge, I used my mouse sander with 120 grit to finish up flush with the edge of the frame.

I used my thumb to "putty" on a little wood filler along the edges, sanded smooth, then I primed it with Kilz.

The other issue with this chest was the "veneer rot" at the base. I scored the veneer with a utility knife above the highest point where the veneer was "loose." Then I just peeled the loose veneer off. No need to remove all the veneer if it is secure!

I nailed a 1x4 board along the bottom to improve the stability. I used scraps of the veneer I had removed to "shim" it. I did this on both sides, even though only one side had issues.

Now it was time to "fill in" the missing veneer. For that, I used wood filler and a broad knife. This is where a little creativity and patience comes into play because you will NOT accomplish a smooth finish with one coat! In my case it took THREE shots to get a nice smooth finish. I applied a coat of wood filler, let it dry, sanded, wiped, and then applied another coat. Same process...three times before I was satisfied with the results! 

Once the last coat of wood filler was sanded smooth and I was satisfied with those results, and ALL the other little repairs were made and I had cleaned it all well, it was time to give the "box" the old KSTP treatment...Kilz, sand, tack and THEN paint. 

The drawers...all but the top drawer were present and accounted for but they all needed a little glue and clamping! Remember, WOOD GLUE AND CLAMPS are your friend...not nails and screws. I pulled a few of those as well as scraped off silicone someone had used to "fix" the drawers!

I only had the front and the bottom of the top drawer. My initial plan was to make a little open shelf in that top space, but I decided to build and replace the drawer! Not a biggy for me since I have built drawers before, but you may want to consider making an open shelf if you are missing a drawer, or one is too difficult to repair. 

I primed the inside and sides of the drawers and will paint them as well. This is the best way to "kill" the smells that sometimes penetrate drawers and hide years of use and abuse!

I was super excited about the hardware...very unusual! But it was pretty cruddy so I decided to paint it gold. It is NOT hard to update hardware with paint! First make sure you reinsert the hardware screws. This is important so you don't get paint on the threads of the screws or in the screw holes of the hardware. Second, PRIME!!! There is primer specifically for metal, so make sure you prime with the proper primer. I prime both the back and front of the hardware. You may want to sand a tad after you prime just to knock off the "crumbs." Then just spray on whatever paint you want to use. In this case, I used a gold metallic paint to give them a nice gold sheen! 

(You may notice I am missing one of the smaller pulls...I noticed that too! Found it in the yard...not primed or painted...curses!)

If you are going to change the hardware on a piece of furniture, you will want to use wood filler to putty the existing holes and sand smooth BEFORE you prime and paint (again, it may take 2-3 coats) That way you are not limited by the size or placement of the existing hardware! Then just drill new holes for the new hardware!

The repairs were pretty extensive on this ratty old dresser but in the end, it really was worth restoring! At this point it is repaired and primed and ready for a final coat of paint.

The sky is the limit! I will probably paint this dresser the same color as a few other projects I am working on, so right now it will sit until I am ready to paint several things. Part of the "assembly line" process! 

Again, don't be afraid of doing a few little the end, the process will always be worth the effort if you take the time to do it right! 

Remember this process...make ALL necessary repairs first and clean the entire piece! Then KSTP! Kilz (or whatever primer you prefer), sand, tack and paint!

I will share this piece once I get it painted. But even at "base neutral" it's looking pretty good!