Furniture Refinishing 101 - or not...

antique brass cabinet diy furniture project refinishing wood

I am not a professional. This is literally my first time refinishing a piece of furniture. I am sure I did about 1000 things wrong but hey, I tried some new things, made it out alive and ended up with a pretty great piece!

On to my furniture finishing adventures...

I had all these dreams and hopes for my next DIY project. Our kitchen could seriously use some more storage. Our pot drawers were loaded to the max and attempting to get anything out often ended in an avalanche of baking sheets and pot lids. I had these big dreams of making a custom built cabinet from Ana White's long list of amazing plans for sideboards. I knew it would be crazy time consuming and likely cost a couple hundred dollars so I was hesitant. 

It wasn't until I stumbled in to my local thrift store and saw this glorious beast of a cabinet for $40... make that $20 with the 50% off sale! It was just the right size with doors that shut flat and stayed in place. One downfall, I had never refinished a piece of furniture before. Two gentleman from the store loaded this magnificent beast into my car and she was mine. All. Mine.

Isn't she lovely?

I had no idea what was under this paint or why the previous owners though she (yes, all pretty furniture is female to me) needed to be covered up? What were they hiding below this charcoal acrylic disaster? After hours of sanding, coughing, more sanding and more coughing she was almost free from this paint. At this point, I was exhausted and didn't want to sand anymore so I figured I'd leave some paint along the edges and the trim to make it look more rustic. Yes, I was going for the rustic look and it had nothing to do with the fact that I was so OVER the sanding process. Let's go with that.

Around this point I also tried to get the paint off of the 'hideous knobs' as my 10 year old calls them. When I was 10 I would likely have agreed, but as a 35 year old woman I would have to say that the ornate design of these is growing on me.

Now, I prepped the wood with wood conditioner. I think I did this right, but who knows, I'm new. After that dried, I applied some stain. I didn't test it on a hidden piece as recommended because hey, no one has time for that garbage and if I didn't like it, couldn't I just paint over all of it? I was supposed to wipe it off after 3-5 minutes but I didn't because I wanted it as dark as possible. I did not go with the grain all that well in some areas due to the curves on the doors and me being a complete noob. This bothers me now since there are some splotches, but with the position in the kitchen now and the lighting you can't even tell.

After the stain dried I applied polyurethane. You are supposed to do this thinly but it didn't really work well for me. I could see tiny bubbles everywhere and I panicked. It said not to shake it and I hadn't, so what with the bubbles people? I was imagining myself taking a pin and popping them all but then I remembered, after this coat dries I will be doing a light sanding before applying a second coat! It dried pretty quick in the face melting temperatures we were having that day so sanding happened quicker than expected and most of the bubbles were gone by that point. After the second coat dried, she was looking mighty fine, even in the strange hue that our orange garage and bad lighting was reflecting on to her. (Yes our garage is orange. No, we did not paint it. Yes, I can share pics another time)

After some careful planning of the pathway we would take to get her into the house the quickest and easiest way that would risk the least chance of harm to the cabinet and to me, my husband and I managed to get her from the garage, around the side of the house, up the deck and straight into the kitchen. 

There she sits... in all her glory... beckoning me to fill her with kitchen-y things.

I repeat, isn't she lovely?

And here she is in her new home!

Thanks for reading my ramblings.

Wishing you love and successful DIY adventures!


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