Repurposed Antique Oak Buffet

Once I got the refinishing itch, I wanted to revamp some stuff for my house and I went hunting, all the time…even when I didn’t realize I was hunting! And one rainy Saturday afternoon I was heading down to my consignment booth to unload some trinkets I had come across and I stopped in at the local Salvation Army to peruse all the furniture and kitchen ware. My eye immediately fell upon a cute little white dresser looking thing that had an open space on the bottom. Because of the configuration I was thinking it would be a cute TV stand for my living room. There was an older gentleman standing there looking at the same piece and he mumbled something about how tragic it was that this wonderful oak piece was sabotaged by a bad paint job. Upon closer inspection I realized he was right, there were a few areas where the paint had been gouged off to reveal an interesting oak pattern underneath. I immediately grabbed a sales person and convinced I needed it, I gave him that “how much is the doggy in the window look?” He discounted the piece for me and we hauled it out to my truck, in the pouring rain! Lucky for me I just happened to have a tarp to cover it up. However, he placed it back side down and the whole time I was driving I just knew it was going to get ruined by all of the rain collecting in that open space. So I pulled over under some trees and in the torrential rain I managed to upright it and recover it for the rest of the journey home. By the time I got to my antique mall I was soaked to the bone but quite happy with my new treasure.

Now typically the b.friend knows I have an eye for certain finds but he took one look at this pitiful little dresser and asked me “HOW MUCH did you spend on that thing?!?” (I think it was $40-something but I don’t recall now). As I began to reallly look at it I realized it was an old buffet that was missing the bottom doors and that whoever had the piece previously had painted the whole thing white. And when I say they painted the whole thing, I mean the W H O L E thing. Inside, outside, back, bottom, front, top, inside the drawers, under the drawers, behind the drawers, etc. Every inch was covered in paint. In some areas it had been spray painted black and THEN painted white. I had no idea what I was in for with this little guy. I did know that this would be a strip job for sure! So out came the gloves and chemicals…I think this is when I realized how truly important it is to have good ventilation, gloves and a mask!

I started with the easy parts, the top and the sides. Then I proceeded to the drawer fronts. There was so much paint everywhere though I got overwhelmed and I would have to take many breaks during this project. I kinda felt like I needed to finish a project, ANY project – so there were several others pieces worked around this one. And once I had used the chemical stripper to get most of the top layers of paint off I had to begin the sanding process…it seemed nothing would take it all off! I sanded, and sanded, and sanded, and sanded…and I sanded this thing for months! And I hadn’t even touched the inside yet! You’ll notice in the early pictures a gray sludge look on the wood, that was a friend “helping” me remove the paint by thinning it out with paint thinner – one word of advice – NO! This is incredibly difficult to clean up and it sucks the life out of the wood. Not to mention it set me back a bit. Lesson learned and I moved on.

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I did literally work on this piece for nearly three months intermittently. I had to pick wood filler out of the keyholes and all the ridges along the platter and in a few other places too. I had a drawer in need of repair but it cleaned up so well you’d never know it was there.  Finding hardware was again a challenge but this time because I had no idea what I wanted! Once I got it stain ready I pretty much just grabbed what I could find that would fit the holes and ran it home as fast as my little truck would go! I am very pleased with the finish although I got so tired of looking at it sitting in the workshop, I never put a polycoat on it and I have yet to order the key escutcheon. But I will … eventually …

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