Sunday, September 27, 2015

Empire Dresser

I'm still on my slow mission to incorporate more antiques and minimize my reliance on IKEA furniture, but I checked off another piece this weekend - my new old empire dresser.

It took me 6 months to actually finish this.  There was snow on the ground when we picked this up. I hate sanding a lot, is what I'm saying.  

But a few factors made this project a little easier than it might have been, and you probably want to keep them in mind unless you really like frustrating DIY projects:
  • This guy is solid wood.  No veneer to match and patch.
  • I made sure to read the back of my stripper container, and only used it when the garage was within the recommended temperature range.
  • My new favorite power tool, the random orbital sander.  Just kidding, I still hate sanding, but I'd hate it even more if I had to sand this beast by hand.
  • Some supports had already been added to the drawer bottoms, and they pulled out smoothly.  This project was entirely cosmetic.

Here's what we started with.  Not awful, but still needing some love.  Which is why I picked it up for almost nothing.  And I'm never scared of a little sweat-equity project.  

As soon as I started stripping the old stain off, the wood underneath revealed itself to be gorgeous (if not wholly a consistent variety throughout the piece).  Someone asked if I was going to chalk paint this, and...look, I know chalk paint has its lovers, and can transform chippy veneered pieces into something adorable.  But if you have an antique, solid wood anything, and it's in great shape, and you chalk paint it, I'm not entirely sure we can be BFFs.  

After 1 round of stripping, I was still working through layers of the thick, gloopy, waxy finish.

After the second round of stripping and sanding, I finally reached bare wood.  It doesn't look like much, when its dry and covered in sanding dust, but if you get your wood a little damp, you can see its true colors shine through...

I really didn't want to cover any of the natural beauty of the wood, so after one final round of sanding and tack cloth, I rubbed everything down with a generous dose of Danish Oil.  It lets the beauty of the wood come alive without adding any unnecessary extra color, and it's really moisturizing.

The pulls that came with the dresser are obviously not the original pulls (those would probably have been simple wood, given its age), but I think their shape and style really suit the piece.  Still, I didn't love the color (and the tarnish), so after a quick Jasco bath and scrub, I spray painted them a metallic oil rubbed bronze.

One step closer to the dream house...

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Home Made Height Chart

Since the Kiddo is now a big first grader (and speeding himself toward outgrowing our old Ikea height chart decal), I thought it was time to finally get around to the homemade height chart I'd been planning.

It turned out way better (and less expensive!) than I thought.  I'd seen cute ones like this for $60-70, but I made mine for about $20.  

We started with this, if you remember:

I started out with an pine board from Lowes, 6' long, 10" wide.  Nothing fancy, not even the stain-grade lumber.  I don't mind a knot or two for this project.  Gave it a quick sand to get the stamps off and smooth any errant rough bits, and tack-cloth'd the sanding dust.

Then it was time to figure out the size and shape of the numbers.  I thought bigger looked better, here. 

My printer is being cantankerous, so I had to freehand my numbers and cut them out to trace their outlines.

Then I filled in my pencil outlines with a black paint pen.  I had more than enough in one pen to do this whole project.

I'm not above using the tools within easy reach for all projects.  Legos get put to work in this house in some unexpected ways.  Like templates for the inch dashes running up the side.

Then, it was time to address the wood.  My inspiration for this project was an old ruler that used to belong to my great grandfather.  It's an odd heirloom, to be sure, but I love it.

I grabbed the Wheat Rust-Oleum wood stain because the pine sample at Lowes was the closest to what I had in my brain.   

Then I used a foam brush and slopped on a coat over everything.

After a few minutes, I wiped the excess off with a paper towel.

I'd saved the other side of the board in case as a second-try option in case it didn't come out like I'd planned.  Fortunately, it came out exactly as I expected (and I'd say I did pretty well on the color match!), so after an hour, when the front was dry, I repeated the stain on the back.

Then I transferred of all of Kiddo's height markings and hung up the height chart he won't be outgrowing any time soon.

Approximate Cost breakdown for this project:

Pine board - 8
Stain - 5
Paint Pen - 4
Hanging Brackets - 3