A friend of mine moved out of her apartment and left me her kitchen furniture including a kitchen cart with a nice large work surface. Unfortunately her roommates had been using it for a mini fridge stand and had not cleaned it in a few years. So with a little bit of work and inexpensive parts/tools I restored the cart to a usable workspace. Total effort was a weekend of work and about $30.
Step 1: Tools Materials
Sandpaper assorted form 80-140 grit ~$5
Screwdriver with interchangeable bits (should have one very useful)
Paper Towels for cleanup of various steps
Foam Brushes ~$0.80
Parts and Materials
Coffee (you will see)
Butcher Block Conditioner ~$10
Threaded Casters ~$10 for all 4
Replacement Knobs ~$6 for 2
Step 2: Cleaning and Sanding
First thing first, disassemble as much as is required to clean and sand everything. This is especially important for the cutting surface since food will be on it. Start by cleaning the entire cart with the sponge and warm water to remove dirt. The deeper stains into the surface will have to be sanded down.
Once manor pieces are removed, such as the handle or the knobs on the cabinet, the sanding can begin. Sand with the grain of the wood, I sanded it by hand. Start with a rough grit such as 80 and sand down until the surface stains are gone. Progress to finer grit up to 140 to smooth the surface.
Step 3: Staining
Staining: DO NOT USE WOOD STAIN most stain is potentially toxic or the varnish will come off when you cut on the surface and end up in your food.
Alternative, remember that coffee? it is good for more than just keeping you awake. A dark brew that is cooled and unfit to drink will stain unfinished wood and is infamous for leaving coffee rings on the table. Well good lets preemptively stain the entire surface.
Use the brush and keep the surface clean using the sponge/towels. Let the surface dry, it will not have the darkness that it had when wet but we will fix that.
Start with the mineral oil applying it to the wood will lock in moisture and bring out the dark color. The Butchers Block Conditioner I used is mineral oil and wax, it is messy at first so make sure you have towels to rub it in and dry off any puddles.
Step 4: Replace Hardware
Now the surface is all stained and oiled it is time to reattach the hardware. the wheels and knobs should be replaced with nice and clean versions. The hardware should all reattach into the old holes without any problem.
Step 5: Finish
For restoration this unit is finished.
The inside is still not redone but is was sanded and cleaned.
Storage improvement like baskets and improved shelves
Contact paper would be a start to protect the shelves.