Introduction: How to Restore Old Cabinets
We decided to upgrade our workshop in the garage so we looked on craigslist for some good quality cabinets. We wanted something built solid so we bought old oak cabinets that once belonged in a science lab from a salvage lot. We really looked for good hardware and solid wood and I would definitely suggest the same!
Step 1: Remove Hardware
If your buying cabinets and restoring them look specifically for good hardware. It'll save you a lot of time and money in the future. Avoid cabinets with glued on hardware.
Step 2: Strip Stain
Paint stripper is pretty cheap and can be bought at any hardware store. Brush on with an old crap paint brush and leave on for about 25-30 minutes. Don't be stingy with the amount of stripper you use apply plentifully. After its sat for awhile use a scraper to get all the gunk off the cabinets. Be very careful not to scrap the wood too hard because the wood is very fragile at this point.
Step 3: Sand
After allowing the cabinets to dry off a little sand the cabinets down in preparation for the new stain. We used an orbital sander but a belt sander would be better (We used an 80 grit on the orbital sander). Since the cabinets are going to be used for our workshop we didn't mind much. Once your done removing all the stain hand sand the cabinets with 150 or higher sand paper in the direction of the grain.
Step 4: Stain
Wipe down the wood and free it of all saw dust and dirt. Then take an old brush and apply the stain (We used a Mission Oak stain because we wanted something true to the type of wood and dark to contrast the hardware). Brush in the direction of the grain and try to avoid air bubbles from forming and drying on the surface of the wood. Then sit and allow to dry. We left it over night and came back to it in the morning!
Step 5: Brush and Restain
Take some fine steel wool and lightly brush down the stain. You'll notice that the color of the stain on the wood will lighten a good amount. Now is the time to put on the final stain on the wood and this will be the final color of the wood!
Step 6: Clean Hardware
Our hardware only really needed some soup and warm water. But if you have rust on your hardware I'd suggest soaking them in white vinegar for a day.
Step 7: Reinstall Hardware/Cabinets
I suggest replacing the screws and hinges even if you don't feel like you need to a project worth doing is a project worth doing well. Screw all the hardware back in but be very gentle not to make it too tight or you'll crack the wood and strip the screw. Wipe down all the cabinets with a wet rag to get rid of all the saw dust in the air. We're saving the counter top for a later project because we want electrical outlets on the counter top and some extra lighting.
Step 8: Finished!
Once everything is installed and dry set up the cabinets the way you want them! We just stacked them for now to get them out of the way because we can only get work done on weekends and we still have to park the car in the garage. Stay tuned to see how to install a counter top material on the top.
**Couple weeks later**
Finally finished! We painted that pin hole board white to give it that contrast and then we stained the frame of the board the same color as the cabinets. For the counter top we used 2 - 3/4 plywood, glued them together with wood glue and a few screws stained of course. We already had the edging around the counter top and we simply applied a polyurethane coat to it for extra protection. Finally we applied the edging around the outside of counter top and reinstalled the vise and the rest of the tools.
Here's how the hours broke down:
- 3 hour staining
- 4 hours sanding
- 2 hour removing cleaning and reinstalling hardware
- 12 hours worth of drying time
We bought the cabinets for 160 after taxes about $190
Stain was about $15
We had the rags $0
Sand Paper $15
New Screws $10
2 3/4 plywood $35
15ft of pine curved edging $15
Everything else we had in our workshop. For a total of about $290