Refinish an Old Dresser




Introduction: Refinish an Old Dresser

Hello everyone!

As I have declared myself the designated maker in my household, I am getting all sorts of home improvement jobs. Today, my parents asked me to refinish the tops of their bedside dressers. I thought I would talk through what I do to refinish things, and maybe you guys could learn something and/or offer some tips!

Step 1: Assess the Damage

While the main body of the dressers is generally alright, the top surfaces are in rough shape. Glasses of water and cups of coffee have taken their toll on the old varnish and aftershave has removed various spots as well.

Taking the time to evaluate what needs to be done reduces the chance of you having to fix something else later that you didn't notice.

Step 2: Sanding Time!

To tear through the bulk of the old varnish, I used a 60 grit paper on my detail sander. This coarse paper really speeds up the work.

Following this, I used 80 and 120 grit on the sander, and then I hand sanded with a 240 grit paper to get everything nice and smooth.

Step 3: 1st Coat of Varnish!

The varnish I used was an antique pine varnish. I used this so that the colour of the top would match the rest of the dresser. I applied it with a soft brush, going with the grain, then I left it to dry for an hour.

Step 4: In Between Coats

After the 1st coat has dried, I lightly sand the surface with a 240 grit paper, to make the surface extremely smooth. Then I apply a second and third coat in the same way.

Step 5: All Done!

That's it! I'm really happy with how this top turned out, and so are my parents!

I hope you guys learned something, if you have any tips or tricks, I would love to hear them!

Have a great day!



    • Metalworking Contest

      Metalworking Contest
    • Water Contest

      Water Contest
    • Tiny Home Contest

      Tiny Home Contest

    5 Discussions

    Nice job on a great piece of solid oak!

    It looks like you did this, but just be sure you use a tack cloth (some people put mineral spirits, some use water, others do it dry) and get off all the little sanding particles before the first coat and every time you sand after that.

    1 reply

    Thank you for the comment! I did indeed use a tack cloth, but the mineral spirits is new to me!


    2 years ago

    Nice job. You should have also gone over the body with the last coat to give them all the same type finish. But nice top finish anyway. At least the top were wood and not particleboard so many are made out of these days.

    1 reply

    Thank you for the tip! It's true, you can't beat real wood!