Recently, a beautiful pair of cabinets came into my life -- battered, beaten, but with noble bones.  A careless string of miserable individuals had heaped abuse upon them under the sickly fluorescent light of some back office.  Yet they stood, faithfully storing files, holding up lamps and coffee makers, enduring the indignities of scratched paint and scotch-tape repairs.  After thirty-five years of service, they were dropped on the curb, left in the Chicago cold, winter wind rattling a few last papers around their feet.  A gentle soul scooped them into his truck and brought them to our warehouse for resuscitation.  

According to the certificate inside, these two Steelcase credenzas were manufactured in 1977, with chromed bases, a stamped steel body, and fake-woodgrain laminate top.  Built like tanks, and painted a similar color, they were made to last.  However, the outdated colors, broken doors, and damaged tops relegated them to the dump.  So, with a little scrap wood, a little love, and three days of work, I brought them into the 21st century with a scrappy remodel, honoring their past and preparing them for the future.  The old tops were replaced with laminated old-growth pine.  The former sliding panels -- half missing, the remainder bent and broken -- were stripped out and replaced with new, hinged doors made from offcuts we had around the shop.  Now these low-slung office beauties can enjoy another thirty years of work, dressed up and sexy.  

While I used a variety of heavy-duty shop equipment on this project, it can easily be done with simpler tools.  The basic idea, repurposing a dead cabinet, is a quick and easy way to make use of alley treasures and abundant scrap wood of all kinds.  

If you're a fan of the project, please vote for it in the Furniture Challenge, and help me keep these projects coming . . . !

You will need these materials:

An old cabinet
A pile of scrap wood -- offcuts, pallet wood, old flooring, old molding, etc.
Some dimensional lumber for laminating new tops
Wood glue
Polyurethane or finish of your choice

You will need these tools:

Table saw
Thickness planer
Chop saw
Hand planer
Orbital sander
Brad nailer
Circular saw
Air compressor
Tape measure
Assorted drill and screw bits
Assorted clamps

Step 1: Strip and Refinish

The first step is the simplest: tear off the old top, rip out the old doors, pull up the old door-slide strip, and clean the cabinets with a damp cloth.  Buzz down the sides with 100 grit sandpaper (wear a mask!) either by hand or with an orbital sander.  Wipe up all the dust with a damp cloth.  Tape off the legs, and re-paint the body with metal enamel paint.  I went over the old seventies avocado green with a flat matte black, but paint it any color you like.  A glossy white would look nice, or a color to match the room it will go in.  While that paint is drying (it may take up to 24 hours), move on to making the new tops.  
Verry nice work. ill know what to do one's the house is ready :) <br>looking forward to start on it ! keep it up ...
contemporary out of trash ? why not
That looks great
i'm a fan of your work.
<em>Awww maaan</em>! Now I'm all teary-eyed over furniture abuse! &nbsp;:D<br> <br> But seriously, nice restoration job on them! ;)
Very nice work. Keep it up.
Kudos! Great job giving new life to old furniture. I have found some few treasures in my dumpster diving. I am so glad to also have a truck for when the opportunity comes along.
Great stuff, as always - I was wondering how clean of an edge do you have to get to &quot;butcherblock&quot; the boards before you glue and clamp them??
They are awesome! I have goosebumps :)
Very nice!<br>
I am always so impressed by your projects! This one is phenomenal.

About This Instructable




Bio: Furniture hacker. Author of Guerilla Furniture Design, out now. Find me on Twitter and Instagram @objectguerilla.
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