Friday, 28 November 2008

DIY # 1: Dead Man's Chest

I re-finished this chest of drawers last summer, and I decided to post a short tutorial in case any of you out there are looking for pointers. The whole project is actually less complicated than you may think. If this is your first attempt at refurbishing, I wouldn't recommend using a piece that is valuable or irreplaceable. My brother purchased this chest of drawers a few years ago, and then abandoned it. It was perfect for my first project because it cost me nothing, and if I destroyed it, no one would miss it.

Materials Needed:
  1. Dust mask
  2. Safety glasses
  3. Gloves (I used rubber kitchen gloves)
  4. Screwdriver
  5. Sandpaper (100 - course & 220 - fine)
  6. Paint brushes (various sizes depending on your project)
  7. Wood stain
  8. Sander
  9. Old rags (for cleaning dust & paint drips)
  10. Newspapers
Materials You May Need:
  1. Hammer
  2. Wood filler
  3. Chemical wood stripper
  4. Varnish
  5. Steel wool
  6. Drill
  7. Hardware (handles & knobs)
Start off by removing anything that will interfere with the sander - handles, knobs and other embellishments. My chest had a wooden flower motif near the top that had to be removed. If there are any nails sticking out, either nail them back in or remove them with the reverse side of a hammer. Big holes should be filled in with a wood filler. Tighten up any loose screws.

Your work space should be well ventilated. If your piece can be separated, then sand each of them individually (i.e. I took out the drawers). To begin load the sander with the most coarse grade of sandpaper. Put on all your safety gear - mask, glasses and gloves. Now it's time to get down and dirty. Strip off all that old flaking paint with the sander. I used a belt sander that I borrowed from a friend, but a small sheet sander would also work. When all the paint is stripped off, switch to a fine sandpaper, and go over the entire piece again. Remove any built up dust on the piece with a rag. The end result should be a smooth, clean finish. If your piece has curves or an intricate design, you will need to either sand these parts by hand or use a chemical wood stripper to remove the old paint.

You're half way there! Protect your work space from drips with old newspapers. Next apply a coat of wood stain to your piece. Stains are available in a wide variety of shades and types. Pick the one that best suits your project. I wanted to save time so I chose a 2 in 1 stain and polyurethane that worked as both a stain and a top coat of varnish. For best results lightly rub the piece with steel wool in between coats. Each stain will have different directions, so make sure you read your label. I applied 2 thin coats, and allowed 10 hours in between for each coat to dry.

Now it's time for the best part - picking out the hardware! Most home improvements stores have a large selection of handles and knobs in lots of colours, shapes and sizes. My chest required two knobs for the smaller drawer on top, and four handles for the two larger drawers on the bottom. If you'd like to change the direction of your handles or replace them with ones that are a different size, you will need to drill new holes. Another option is to clean up your old hardware with a coat of metallic spray paint.

For more tips and ideas for your DIY projects, visit Be Jane, a great site for women DIYers.

Happy sanding!

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