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Transform a down-on-its-luck dresser into an elegant buffet complete with racks for glasses and fresh new hardware.
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The type of dresser you choose to refurbish for this project will determine some of your material quantities and the finished design. Apply as many of the steps below as possible to your choice of dresser.
Select a dresser with at least four drawers and, if possible, a cabinet area in the center like the one shown. Even though it was in rough shape, this dresser had the advantage of a large center selection flanked by four small drawers, minimizing the need for major changes.
Many older furnishings used wood veneer that, with age, can separate from the layer below. Check that any original veneer is in good condition before you continue. Glue or remove any loose veneer.
Remove the two center doors and their hinges. Then pull out all of the drawers and set them aside. If the back can be removed without damage, gently pry it off and set it aside to be painted.
Fill any screw or nail holes, deep dings, and scratches with wood filler and sand smooth. This is also a good time to tighten up any loose screws or hardware and replace damaged or missing floor glides and pads.
Apply a coat of primer to the case and back where it shows from the front through the compartments. Gently smooth the primer with a fine sanding sponge, wipe clean, and apply a second coat. Follow up with at least two coats of the color of your choice (Gilded Linen shown).
For large, flat surfaces such as the dresser top and sides, you can work faster and smoother using a mini roller. Check your work in an angled light to ensure a smooth finish with no runs or bumps.
Whether you plan to paint the drawer fronts, as shown on the long drawers, or cover the damaged surface with veneer, as on the short drawers, first remove the drawer knobs and pulls. (You can reuse these, refinish them, or replace them with updated versions as we did with the dresser shown.)
If the new drawer pulls use a different spacing for the mounting screws than the existing hardware, consider using one of the existing holes and covering the other hole with wood filler. Then drill a new hole to match the spacing of the replacement hardware.
Sand the drawer fronts and wipe clean. Prime the drawer front and sand smooth. Then apply at least two coats of paint of your choice (Academy Gray and Mossy Aura shown). Let dry overnight.
Attach the replacement hardware and return the painted drawers to the case.
To lend the smaller drawers a fresh natural wood finish, cover the drawer fronts with iron-on veneer. For each drawer, cut a section of veneer about 1 inch longer and wider than the drawer front. Preheat a steam iron to its highest setting.
If you want the wood species on the drawer front edges and ends to match the face veneer, apply an iron-on edge veneer and trim it to fit before applying the face veneer.
Center the veneer on the drawer. Starting at one end, apply heat from the iron until the veneer adhesive softens and sticks to the drawer front. Continue evenly heating the veneer and pressing it against the drawer until you reach the other end. Pay special attention to forming a good bond around the edges and ends of the drawer front.
After the veneer has cooled, use a utility knife with a fresh blade to trim off the excess veneer. Gently sand until the veneer is flush with the drawer front edges and ends.
Apply the finish of your choice to the drawer front. If the drawer front wood is different from that of the veneer, you can stain or paint the edges and ends of the drawer front to approximate the color of the veneer.
Screw the replacement drawer pulls and knobs in place. Then attach the glass holder to one side of the center opening using the screws provided. (Check that the opening for sliding out the glasses is to the front.)
Replace the drawers. If the drawers slide out with wood-on-wood guides or supports, consider rubbing the guides with wax for smoother operation.
If you removed the back, reattach it before moving the buffet into position.
Fresh paint, veneer, and hardware hide this buffet’s former life as a dresser. Removing the center cabinet doors provides a place to store spare plates, glasses, and accessories.