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The Dresser

  Let’s talk about how wonderful my apartment experience has been. Fuck Tallahassee housing. So, in case you don’t know already, I’m moving to a new place with new people that will hopefully be better than el old Echang-o, and since this new place is unfurnished and my old place was furnished, I’ve been in a mad dash to acquire furniture. In addition, since Jenn and I are getting married and all and will be moving in together, we’re thinking of getting things cheap now that we can use when we’re together. Hence, the dresser.
  I saw an ad for this dresser on Craigslist for 50 bucks. Jenn and I were looking for something low with a mirror for when we’re together, and this fit the bill perfectly. Also, since we like to do projects, we thought we’d do one of our first real Trading Spaces-ish project together with this.
  The original piece is particle board with white laminant, not a good formica laminant but glorified sticker paper that was clearly wearing through. My mouse sander tried to take off as much as it could but the age of the sticky crap just made it gum up all my sanding pads. We gambled if the paint we got would stick to a roughed up surface over a completely bare surface and did the best we can, leaving a lot of white laminant on the piece. The paint we used was a Kilz acrylic-latex paint from Wal-Mart, simply since it was the cheapest we could get ($7 a bucket custom mixed). We got one Black and one “Black Cherry” after seeing that the Fleur De Lis I got for my walls looked pink when it dried against the black on a sample piece. We didn’t actually get to see how it would dry when we bought it and thought it would be too dark, and honestly almost bought a lighter one, but when you see the finished product I think you’ll agree we chose the right color. We also bought some wood putty and a wood grainer (about $5 together, though I don’t count them in the cost since I’ll keep and reuse them). Jenn bought the 6 hardware pieces for $3 each, and we bought 2 2×4 pieces of 1/8 hardboard to replace literally the cardboard stapled to the back of this thing ($4 each). So far, we’re at $90.
  The plan was to fill the old drawer pull holes, lay the black down first in a good coat, let it dry, then grain the wood over it. The wood graining tool works by laying paint in different patterns as you rock it as you drag it across your piece. Long story short, as soon as the rubber graining tool touched the latex paint it started scraping it off the leftover laminant of the original wood. After destroying the counter top and 3 drawers, we realized we’d have to go back and re-sand.
  We went to Home Depot and rented a belt sander and got 2 belts for about $30 for 4 hours and took it home, thinking I’d be done in about an hour. Not so much, as soon as it touched the dresser everything just became a gummy mess in about 1/2 a second. We almost decided to scrap the project, but I am to bull headed and determined to succeed so I used the gummy belts to literally friction all of the paint and laminant off. I was a mess, the outside of my apt was a mess, and the only thing that looked good was the dresser. I’m surprised the cops didn’t get called, this belt sander was as loud as 4 shop vacs and I did it in front of my front door at my complex for 2 hours. OOPS! What helped was using a putty knife to peel off as much of the black paint as we could, and the good thing we noticed is that the rounded edges of the drawers (where all the laminant had originally been sanded off) were keeping the paint well.
  So we returned the sander and painted it black again. Once it dried, it finally took the overcoat! 1 night later and it was as good as wood. Jenn left for CA and I poly’d it 3 times before Rachel came home, drilled and installed the hardware, and put it back out of the way. After the belt sander, this project cost about $120, which I don’t think is bad, I bet I could now sell it for that much on craigslist. For the low cost and the amount of fun, I’d say this was well worth the result.
Dresser 01
The dresser in its original condition, note the mismatched hardware and corner damage. The base piece also sticks out the sides a lot, I sanded it flush.

Dresser 02
The inside of a drawer, they’re not huge but then again we don’t have a lot of stuff, and Jenn has an upright dfresser as well.

Dresser 03
More countertop and drawer.

Dresser 04
Side view, notice the bottom board sticking out and the corner damage.

Dresser 05
The mirror which attaches to the back, sorry you have to see my fat legs but you still need to see this piece.

Dresser 06
After the belt sanding incident, we reblacked it and applied the paint. Here you can see an intermediate step, and you can see the color before the polyurethane goes on. Neat photos.

Dresser 07
You can see through to where I hammered the hardboard to the back, much better than crappy cardboard like it came with if you ask me.

Dresser 08
Like how that comes out like wood grain? Great technique, easy to do.
Dresser 09
Poly on the drawers, what a huge mess in my apartment!
Dresser 10
Finished dresser, with hardware on, if you notice it when you walk in it really, really looks like stained wood!

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