Our very good friends Chris & Shara are expecting a baby in November. When they mentioned that they were paying someone to redo a dresser for them, we said, “Excuse me?? Why would you pay a stranger to do that when we would LOVE to do the project for you!” They did decide to entrust us with the dresser, and here’s the result!
This transformation really wasn’t hard to achieve. We used an orbital sander to knock off the old stain and varnish from all flat surfaces. We didn’t waste our time sanding all the nooks and crannies of the dresser, however, because the finished product was going to be painted. You really only need to do all the painstaking, detailed sanding work IF the finished product will be stained. We did rub down all un-sanded surfaces with a product called Jasco Easy Liquid Sander Deglosser (found in the paint section), which increases the adhesion of paint to shiny surfaces such as the varnish/poly that was on this dresser.
About the time we finished sanding it down, we got a text from Chris & Shara asking if those awful, embedded drawer pulls could be replaced with actual handles. I was so relieved to get this text, since I was already thinking those handles had to go! I mean, can you imagine holding a newborn in one hand and trying to open those drawers with those tiny handles in the other hand?? So, we got to work figuring out the best way to remove the embedded handles. On our 1st attempt, we realized that the entire handle would just pop right out when the 2 screws in back were removed, and some light prying with a wood chisel was done. But we ended up with this…
Hard to tell from the picture, but that’s a deep hole! We weren’t sure how a hole that size would take wood filler. There would probably be a lot of pitting and cracking, which nobody likes. So, on our 2nd attempt, we left the 2 screws in the back, and then started chiseling on the lip of the handle. This worked perfectly! It cracked off the lip of the embedded drawer pull, leaving the embedded part secure, resulting in a much smaller hole to be filled. After some chiseling and sanding, this is how it looked.
Now the holes were much smaller and took wood filler very nicely. We put 2-3 applications of wood filler in each hole, sanding between each application to ensure a level, smooth finish. This is a picture after the first application. You can see that it’s not quite level yet, hence the application of the 2nd and 3rd coats.
Once all the wood filling and sanding was done, all that was left to do was paint and add the new, modern hardware. We put on 3 coats of paint using a foam roller and a good brush. A foam roller will give you the smoothest finish possible with latex paint on wood.
We did ask Chris & Shara to choose hardware with hole-to-hole spacing of 4″ or greater so we could avoid the wood filled area of the drawers. Wood filler is great, but it’s not really strong enough to support drawer pulls for the long term. The momma’s-to-be liked the finished look of the dresser and asked us not to put any finish on it. But after subsequent conversations, they might add a coat or 2 of matte polycrylic to the top surface of the dresser. If you do this, don’t forget to wet sand between coats with 600-1200 grit sandpaper as that is what helps achieve a really smooth finish.
Oh, and just for fun, we put a hidden compartment in one of the drawers. Hopefully the little guy will be into that sort of thing. 🙂
I can’t share any pictures of the finished hidden compartment, because, well, then I’d have to kill you. But I will share a https://www.youtube.com/embed/-ZRC_RCiPuA” target=”_blank”>link to a very thorough explanation on how to add a hidden compartment to a drawer. It’s easier than you might think, but darn near impossible to find unless you know it’s there!
I’ll add a finished picture from their adorable nursery soon!