1963 Graduation Chest of Drawers

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Introduction: 1963 Graduation Chest of Drawers

My Father built this Chest of Drawers for me when I graduated High School in 1963. It has been loved, used and abused for many years.

I took it apart and cleaned it, inside and out, with Vinegar and water. Then I used liquid TSP to remove grease and to help the paint adhere. I let it dry for 2 days.

Step 1: Primed With Kilz and Zinser

I sanded with medium then fine blocks, then I primed everything with Kilz and Zinser. I had both so I used both. I prime or finish all raw wood, especially in a dresser. I want to put in a sweater and know it is safe. I prime inside and out...top and bottom. I made some repairs and filled in some gouges with wood filler. I do this after I prime so I can see them better. Then I prime again over. Overkill? Probably. But it's worth it to me in the results.

Step 2: Paint Drawer Pulls

I cleaned and scrubbed...and scrubbed the original copper drawer pulls. I wanted to keep as much of my Dad as possible, so I kept the pulls and spray painted them with a hammered antique spray paint. It was a major brand, but I wasn't real happy with the process, so I won't mention any name. I had to spray them 4 times to get the look that I wanted. I put the screws into the pull and stuff them into packing styrofoam to stand up while I spray.

Step 3: Paint and Distress

I make my own paint. I usually buy the "mistints" in colors that I know I can improve and use. I used a White Behr primer and paint from Walmart then added a brown to make an Antique white. I painted everything the antique white. The inside of the drawers is 2 layers of Apple Barrel Acrylic Paint. I love it. I love the pop of color. On the main body of the chest, I distressed it with 2 coats of Dark Min Wax. The Dark was was applied all over and then buffed. Then applied heavier in certain spots to get a distressed look, left on a little longer, then buffed. I use and old t-shirt to buff. I like the contrast of the main chest and the drawers.

Step 4: Sketch the Design on the Drawers

I double checked the position of each drawer in the chest and labeled them on the back of the drawer. I then stacked them, as best I could...and began sketching my design onto them with a graphite pencil. Very messy, but the outcome was worth it. When I was happy with the sketch, I got out my Apple Barrel Acrylic Paint and went to town...making sure that no dark paint oozed between the drawers onto the top or the bottom.

Step 5: Finished Chest of Drawers

When I assembled the chest in my bedroom, I made some slight paint touch ups to make sure everything aligned as well as could be. I then used 2 coats of Clear Min Wax to seal the drawers. The clear wax was rubbed on the whole drawer, inside and out...then buffed.

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    17 Discussions

    It is so beautiful, and ready to stay in your family for many more years to come. Like your dad smiles at you every time you come by.

    1 reply

    Beautifully said and so true. Thank you very much.

    Absolutely beautiful, and such attention to detail....love it!

    1 reply

    Thank you so much. I am a perfectionist trying to emote. lol

    Gorgeous redo! And a great piece made by your dad.

    2 replies

    Thank you. This was his last piece, so it was a labor of love.

    Thank you much. I forgot to add that this was the last thing that he ever built. It means a lot to me. Your comment does too.

    But what I wanted to say was that I absolutely love the result, it's such a pretty chest of drawers

    1 reply

    Absolutely beautiful design and redo! Fabulous work of love by your Dad! I so enjoy seeing all the creative ideas shared on this magnificent website! Thank you!

    1 reply

    Thank you so much. That really means a lot to me. It is a treasure. I love seeing other peoples treasures re-vamped and used...even if that means painting an antique. It can be enjoyed.

    This is amazing. Both your dad and you are very talented people!

    1 reply

    Bless your heart. Thank you so much.

    A word of advice on refinishing copper or any other metal parts. Screw a part on a long screw and fix it in place of a bit in a drill. Place the drill in a vice, make sure it's well gripped. Push drill trigger with one had, hold a bunch of steel wool or wire brush with another against the rotating part. It will strip the old finish and will impart a nice circular pattern. Lacquer with clear metal lacquer. You could also lightly steel-wool over the lacquer if you want satin finish.

    1 reply

    I love it. That will definately be on my next to do list. I did use 0000 steel wool after I got all the gunk off. I have arthritis so the process "challenged me". Thanks muchly.