I have a very hard time passing on a good deal. Or what I think might be a good deal. A few weeks ago, these dressers were posted on Craigslist with the price of “make me an offer.” So I made a tentative offer, without seeing them, and he accepted. I drove the hour to pick them up, baby in tow, and my mom following behind me in her vehicle so we could fit all three pieces. When we got there, even though they were in a dimly lit garage, I could tell they needed more work than I bargained on and that my offer was too high. I did a little bit of renegotiating and walked away feeling pretty good.
Until I got home.
It’s amazing how much bad lighting can hide. As soon as I got these babies out of the vehicles, I immediately thought I was in over my head. They were dirty, no, filthy. There was YEARS of “stuff” on them. The tall one has veneer issues. Then I realized there was some sort of weird top coat on all of them that I’d never dealt with before. My “deal” wasn’t seeming so great anymore.
I immediately washed the heck out of them. There was no way I was even bringing them in my garage in that condition. I use TSP and water and a LOT of elbow grease.
A few days later, I decided to tackle the dresser I THOUGHT was in the best condition.
Ok, clearly it needed work, but I thought a good sanding would be the answer. As I mentioned, it had some weird coating on it, but I was hoping it would come off easily like it was already doing on the bottom.
This stuff was literally just falling off the bottom. I could brush it right off. But the rest of the piece? Ummm, no such luck.
This is pre – hour of sanding…
Aaaand this is post – hour of sanding. You guys, this crap wouldn’t budge!! And in case you thought I meant I spent an hour sanding the entire piece, allow me to clarify that that was just for the top. The whole thing took nearly five hours. FIVE HOURS of 80 grit paper with a power sander, by hand, and with a sanding sponge. And this is what I was left with.
Clearly whatever devilry this was wasn’t going anywhere. Now, smarter people than myself may have used a stripper. But I just hate using such strong chemicals, plus I was so ticked off at that this thing that I was more than happy to take out my aggression on it. I decided that while I may never be able to make it LOOK even, I could get it pretty close to FEELING even. So I sanded on.
As you can see, there were a few gouges on the top and in a few other places. I filled the biggest/deepest ones with Bondo, and again sanded on. And sanded, and sanded… After all that sanding, I wasn’t sure the milk paint would adhere to my multicolored surface, so I shellacked the entire piece in hopes of giving the paint something to grab onto. After an ENTIRE DAY of prep, I was left with this:
Day two (or three, including the cleaning) brought on the painting. At this point, I could have made things a lot easier on myself by using chalk paint. But what fun is that? I’m a milk paint girl, whenever possible. I chose Miss Mustard Seed in Boxwood for my initial color.
These pictures are after the first two coats. The last picture shows some of the chipping/crackling happening on the top. I didn’t want a ton of those little flecks coming off, so I gently sanded and did another quick coat of spray shellac to “seal” them in. On the subsequent coats, I added a bit of Lucketts Green to the Boxwood to add a bit more dimension…you know, because this beast was so lacking in character. Ha! I believe I ended up doing four coats on the body, and maybe six on top. I lost track… I sanded the whole piece lightly with a 200 grit sandpaper, and then a 400 grit to finish. I sealed the whole piece with hemp oil, lined the drawers with pretty paper, and added my favorite bone knobs. Here is the result:
She’s still not perfect, guys. You can totally see the remnants of whatever the heck that is under the paint, and there’s all sorts of “character” everywhere. And that’s ok. I know it will take the right person to love her. But the moral here is this…a deal isn’t always what it seems! I was a bit blinded by the possibility of getting THREE awesome dressers and overlooked all the possible pitfalls. I think everything worked out fairly well in the end, but I do still have two more major projects ahead of me! This is not a piece I would have recommended to a beginner. If you’re thinking about tackling your first piece (or fourth, or twentieth), really evaluate how much work it will need and whether or not it’s worth it to you to put that work in. So what do you guys think…was it worth it?