Introduction: Small Cabinet Restoration

Small Cabinet Restoration

Awhile back a friend tasked me with turning this old yard-sale find into something presentable for his mothers birthday.

As you can see it was in pretty rough shape. It had at least three different colours of paint and the top had been "fix" with an old piece of vinyl flooring. From what I could tell, at some point there would have been some type of upper cabinet or mirror to accompany this piece but I suspect it's long gone. That history I've covered up but we'll get to that a little later.

This is the process I took to bring some life into this old/dated piece furniture.

Step 1: Removing the Old Paint

One of the most painful steps in restoring a piece of furniture, has got to be removing the old paint and or finish. There are tons of different paint strippers out there, and many of which work quite well when removing one layer of paint at a time. I had started this project with one such product, it had worked great on previous endeavours but this one was a different beast. With layers of paint varying in not only colour but in whether it was latex of oil based caused some layers to turn gummy and made a bit of a mess.

Fast forward a day and the learning of the helpful hint of paint removal with a heat gun, the entire cabinet was down to bare wood in a night.

Note: The more paint and finish you remove with the heat gun the less sand paper you'll need to finish things up. Because I was reapplying paint and if you will be too, you won't have to waste your time sanding to a super fine finish. Up to a 80 grit should be more than enough.

Step 2: Sanding Complete & Top Fixed Up

With all the sanding finished up I was ready to move onto fixing up the top.

The top was a bit too small to cover the whole frame. This is because of that original upper piece I mentioned earlier. And the front corner was cut off at sometime over its life. In order to address these issues the front edge was trimmed down on the table saw to remove the cut corner.

A piece of pine 2x4 was planed down to thickness and cut to size, this will become the new front edge. after gluing the pine and entire top was routed with a 45 degree chamfering bit, this matched what was original to the piece.

*When nearing final sanding be sure to fill unwanted holes with wood filler. (Like the ones I encountered in the drawers.)

With the top fixed up I was ready for paint and primer.

Step 3: Primer

Now I'm not a fan of painting, Actually I hate it with just about every fibre of my being. But sometimes its the best and in the case the only finish for the job.

I knew that I wanted the insides of the drawers to be a different colour than the outside of the cabinet. Since I will be painting the final coats with a light cream colour, I figured I would save myself some time and have the drawers be primer white. It took about 2 coats of primer on the outer surfaces and 3 to get to a point were I was happy with the coverage on the interior. Because the only time I get for these things is after work every new coat of paint had overnight to dry.

Step 4: Painting

I took the same approach with the paint as I did with the primer. (And with the same enthusiasm)

Step 5: Drawer Pulls

The final touch was to add new drawer pull, these nickel coloured pulls replaced the old glass ones which at some point had replaced the original (what I suspect were a type of batwing pull).

When replacing drawer pulls, (unlike the person who installed the glass ones) you want to be very careful to centre each one on the face of the drawer. In my case I was able to take a small round file and elongate the holes just a bit so the pulls sat flush against the drawer front and as centred as I could get them.

Step 6: Enjoy!

All that is left is to enjoy your handy work, and hopefully take a great deal of pride in the fact that you breathed new life into an old piece of furniture.

Thanks for reading.

-Wood Crow

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