Saturday, March 22, 2014

Docking station DIY

Hi there. Remember me? I know, it's been a while. I missed you too.

Things have been crazy since painting season ended. Hubby was shipped off to San Diego for 7 weeks, the kids and I flew out and visited him in the middle and that was an adventure and a half let me tell ya. He missed Thanksgiving but was home for Christmas and then was shipped off again in the beginning of February and missed our daughter's birthday and mine. Thankfully, he's back now and while it's been a brutally cold and snowy winter here in the northeast and spring is slow to push back the sun is finally shining again and I've had the itch to take on a project.

You know that jumble of cords from phone and tablet chargers to hand held gaming devices and ereaders everyone seems to have in some communal and often high-traffic area of the house? I have one too, right on my kitchen counter and it's really been ticking me off. I've seen lots of inventive and cute ways to deal with this on Pinterest but none seemed right for my household. The cute fabric or washi tape covered pockets that can be hung right on an outlet (here) puts all these electronic goodies in grabbing reach of my almost 3 year old (most of my outlets are near the baseboards) or couldn't hold the MANY devices that need to be plugged in at once. I do not have enough counter space to forfeit for a stand-alone unit (here) although this is an especially adorable solution. Living with the chaos was really starting to irk me though so I came up with my own idea.

My goal was to suspend a letter tray or shelf of some kind from underneath my kitchen cabinets directly above my outlet. I found an inexpensive wire mesh letter tray from Walmart for about $4 and since it didnt have anyway to suspend it I cut out some slots on the side with my Dremel.

Cheap wire letter tray: check.

"Expertly" cut slots in side: check.

The cabinets have a little plastic support piece in the middle along the wall so the letter tray couldn't mount flush against the underside like I originally wanted. I decided to use hooks which would allow it to hang an ever-so-small amount below the plastic piece while still being completely out of the way. This also allows a small space between the tray and the underside of the cabinet to run each cord up and over the back edge of the tray without pinching it (too much).

Kind of a tight squeeze but it worked.
Then I just pre-drilled some holes (after carefully marking where the screws would need to go) and screwed them in. There was very little wiggle room under there so I screwed in the back two screws and then hung the wire tray on them with the corresponding back slots I had cut. I wasn't really sure how I was going to get the last screw in the last slot since there was no more room for tipping the letter tray but I was able to rotate the screw out of the way to get the tray in the correct location and then turn the screw back towards the letter tray and pop it into the slot with my thumb. This isn't easy to describe but if you ever try to mount something that doesn't bend or flex onto 4 exact points you'll know what I mean.

You can see the plastic piece on the cabinets that threw me for a loop in this picture.

Out of the way, just like I wanted.
Once hung I dug out every charger I had and starting seeing how my electronic devices would fit. I quickly discovered that 1). I still only had 2 plugs in my outlet and about 6 devices that I wanted to plug in and 2). Cords were still everywhere. Hmm. Never one to give up, we picked up an outlet multiplier with USB plugs for our iPhones and Kindles (this bad boy right here) the next time we were in Walmart. Like most of our projects we were squeezing it in between lots of other things so once we got the multiplier plugged in we left it there, chaotic cords and all.

A few days later I finally started trying to figure out how to deal with the cords hanging between the outlet and the mounted tray. I tried wrapping and taping them into bundles but that just made lots of bundles hanging down (=ugly). Finally I got the idea to use some binder clips and thumb tacks I had already to gather the cords together and run them in an organized way up the wall and behind the mounted tray. It's not sophisticated and I'm pretty sure Nate Berkus or Martha Stewart could do a better job in their sleep but it works and it looks about 150% better than it did before. I'm calling that a win!!

That's right, I'm rocking brightly colored office supplies.

I'm sharing this project not because it's a sleek and adorable way to organize your cord chaos but because I did something that didn't require a whole lot of work and works well. More importantly it's something that those of you with no available horizontal real estate can do for a few bucks and it's a particularly good solution for people living in apartments (get your land lord's permission before drilling holes in your cabinets).

Lessons Learned:

1). It's best to plan out the whole project before you start so you don't get part way through and then realize your amazing installation doesn't completely solve your problem. But no biggie, necessity is the mother of invention and I like to fly by the seat of my pants ;)

2). Don't be afraid to experiment and try some crazy idea you may have. Functional and HELPFUL doesn't have to look perfect so don't let some mismatched office supplies stop you from trying something out. If this kind of visually mismatched solution drives you nuts (or you're looking for a more permanent and attractive solution) than those little cable clips with the the attached nail (like these) would be a great solution. I know we have some somewhere but couldn't find them so I went with the binder clip/thumb tack solution because I'm impatient and not motivated enough to dig through our storage room disaster. But I digress... The cord clips would allow you to run your cords neatly and efficiently without being so noticeable. You could even paint the clip part your wall color and run the cords behind an appliance or in the corner of two walls allowing you to hide them even better. As a matter of fact, I might do this when I find those little buggers!

Remember: functional doesn't have to be perfect and with a little thought an idea you see online or in someone's home can be adapted and changed to fit your personal needs. Good luck and go organize something!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Butcher block cart makeover

Way back in the day my parents got us this little butcher block topped cart for our teenie tiny apartment kitchen. It was a godsend at the time since our kitchen had almost no storage space what-so-ever (our microwave had previously lived on the kitchen table)! When we moved into our condo it came with us and has been holding everything from our mail, bibs and phone books to coloring books and crayons ever since. After I finished my two-toned dresser (here) I looked around my house for something I could finish the same way and  BINGO! I've never been a fan of the finish on this and staining the light, almost raw wood butcher block with a darker more sophisticated color seemed like a no-brainer. This little fella is a plain jane work horse just begging for it's crown of roses!

Utilitarian cart ready for it's makeover!

The lazy side of me almost won out but I ultimately decided to take the whole butcher block top off and detach it's 2 drop sides. The fact that it was just a handful of screws was the deciding factor :) Off came the top and drop sides followed by a light hand-sanding and 2 coats of dark walnut stain (top and bottom). The bottom of the cart got spray painted Rustoleum's Heirloom White. Easy peasy. Next came polyurethane on the top ( 2 coats) and re-assembly. This little cart is ready for it's reveal!

Let's get this party started!

Ready for it's close up!

Close up of it's shiny, reflective surface.

I love how it came out! In the past I have passed over pieces of furniture based on the color of the wood but now I know better. If you can learn to look past a piece's surface presentation to consider it's potential you never know what favorites you might find that are hiding in plain sight!

Lessons Learned

1). Don't get so excited to get started on a project that you forget to clean your piece thoroughly FIRST. I cleaned the top and completely spaced on the very bottom (near the wheels) and didn't notice the collected dust until my first coat of spray paint made it very obvious. Oops :) I made the best of that situation but obviously it would be better to not ever have that problem.

2). Come up with a plan for wheels before you start painting. Oops again. I was in a rush with this one, anxious to have it back in use (my kitchen table was covered in all the things we usually keep in it the drawers!) and I just started painting without considering the wheels. I never covered them so they got paint on them which I remedied by continuing to intentionally paint them but because they didn't get cleaned first they are pretty rough looking. Luckily, no one looks at the wheels under it (they'll be too busy looking at the gorgeous top)!

This was little effort on my part with BIG payoff. It honestly took more time (and patience) than effort to take something plain and make it over into something more my style. Why replace when you can re-finish? Is there anything you have laying around that might be a hidden gem?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Little side table

My neighbor has seen me make over numerous pieces this summer and asked me if I would re-do a little side table of his. His teenage daughter used it in her room and it had definitely seen better days. It was stained and scuffed, with soda can rim marks, a piece of tape and something else I couldn't quite identify. This is the story of this troublesome little table.

Stripping and getting ready for a make-over!

I spent a good amount of time cleaning this up before I even started stripping or sanding it. I stripped both the top and bottom surface of the top shelf with the intention of re-staining it. I left the rest because it was just easier to paint it and I'm totally loving the two-toned finish these days. I had to work particularly hard at getting the tape off though. The plastic strip of the tape came off with the stripper but the adhesive stayed behind trapping the old finish under it. It was weirdly hard and un-scrapeable. I tried Goo Gone (a citrus based de-gummer) but as I suspected, if paint stripper wasn't going to take it off neither would that. I just sanded it with a course grit paper and was able to get it off but I was left with a weird looking spot where the wood was more exposed and raw than the rest which had just been stripped bare. I was hoping I would be able to cover it up but wasn't really sure what I was dealing with.

My neighbor had given me a can of stain and polyurethane in one product (Minwax Polyshades) in a nice mahogany color so I thought I'd use that. I still had the natural bristled paint brush that I used to polyurethane my dresser so I pulled everything outside and got ready. My brush was stiff even though I had cleaned it really well with mineral spirits after using it last so I tried to bend and flex the softness back into it. It kind of worked so I proceeded. The stain/poly product was thick and congealed at the bottom of the can so I mixed slowly to reconstitute it and stopped when I thought it seemed like the right consistency but I have never worked with this mixed product before so I was totally flying by the seat of my pants. Well it was either that or the stiff brush but it looked horrible; streaky, thick and totally inconsistent. I promised to share my failures with you too, didn't I :) Well, nothing to do for it except to try and fix it when it was dry.

That weird looking spot in the upper right portion is where that blasted tape was. I had to work hard to get it off so the wood absorbed the stain differently. Luckily after 2 coats you couldn't see it anymore.

The next day I sanded it down with 220 grit sandpaper to level out any ridges left by the brush strokes and get down to a thinner layer of the stain/poly coat. I headed out to a local discount store in town and bought 4 new natural bristle brushes for less than $1 each, plus a bar clamp that I've been considering getting (at the price they had it for I snatched it right up!). I will DEFINITELY be shopping there again! After venturing out to pick up my next project (a free round table and 3 chairs) I got home and got another coat of the stain/poly coat on with one of the new brushes and *phew!* it went on much nicer. See Lessons Learned section for my thoughts on this finish.

I let that dry over night and got to priming and painting this little bugger. I had only lightly sanded the legs on this but had stripped the bottom shelves when I stripped the top. The primer was going to have to do the heavy lifting on the legs 'cuz there was no way in you-know-where that I was going to sand down those curvy spindles!!

After one coat of primer

After one coat of primer and one coat of paint. Clearly this was going to take some time.

It took one coat of primer and two coats of paint to cover it but once it was dried it looked great. Once more it dried overnight and then I carefully distressed it lightly in what I felt were natural-looking areas and then used the antiquing glaze to add a light patina of age to it. While I'm definitely not sold on the stain/poly combo product overall I think this little table came out pretty nice.


A close up of the antiquing finish.

Lessons Learned:

1). Having now used stain followed by polyurethane and the combination product I would personally recommend using a separate stain and poly. Using stain allows significant control over the color you're looking for since you can put in on relatively heavily and let it really soak into the wood before wiping off any excess. This control allows for as much absorption or as little as you'd like. You do not have this control or flexibility with the combination product so your application needs to be perfect (it is NOT forgiving). Also, using a separate polyurethane coat allows you to choose your desired sheen. I like shiny things so I chose to purchase high gloss and it's really something spectacular. I can literally see myself in a 3 coat finish. This combination product gave more of a satin sheen than a gloss and rather than the depth you get with a separate stain/ poly application the combination product looks more like opaque wood colored paint.

2). I found out why your parents told you never to put tape on wood furniture! Who knows how long this tape had been on there but it had made some kind of permanent bond with the finish and was a real *B* to get off!

3). Hand painting spindles is not my favorite thing. Next time I'll go with spray paint and color match it if I absolutely have to hand-paint parts of a project. Its hard to get paint to go into all the crevices smoothly and not leave brush strokes and drips all over the place. Multiple light coats of spray paint would have worked much faster and easier.

For my first commissioned piece I'm pretty happy with it. I am fairly sure I won't be using that combination product again but it was good to try it out on something fairly small. I'll still consider this one a success, but just barely!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Getting the most out of your candles

Like most people I like to burn candles in my home. It makes a home more inviting while helping to cover the smell of kids and pets :) Also like many people, I like the expensive candles. You know the ones that cost $23 a jar and promise hours upon hours of burn time. My problem is that there's always a good amount of wax left at the bottom of these candles that goes to waste when the wick is spent. I'm paying good money for that wax that gets tossed out with the trash so I decided to do something about it!
I picked up a handful of cheap votive holders and a package of wicks and decided to transfer this still fragrant and usable wax to a smaller container to make new baby candles. Then I decided to invite my girlfriend over with her spent candles and make a fun project out of it. Turns out I got help too :)

Our materials
 Between the 2 of us we had 4 usable candles. One of mine I passed on because it was a failed attempt previously to layer the wax from more than one candle. My intention at the time had been to keep this wick-less candle on the stove top so it would scent my kitchen whenever we used the stove but it never occurred to me that the waxes would all meld together when melted this way (and the resulting smell wasn't harmonious). Duh, I know. Hindsight is always 20/20!

I used a hot water bath to melt the wax rather than microwaving it because I was afraid of scorching the wax (and killing my microwave). This method is easy, quick and almost fool proof.

It's hard to get a picture of steam!
 Once the wax was completely melted I removed the remaining wick stub left at the bottom (except a couple pesky little bastards that got away from me) and CAREFULLY poured the melted wax into my votive holder. I bought pre-waxed wicks with the little metal clip attached. The clip allowed the wicks to stand up straight-ish in the glasses on their own. I just popped a wick into each candle holder and poured the melted wax slowly into the glass.

In case you were wondering, that's a Mickey glove oven mitt :)
 It's damned near impossible to pour off the melted wax without getting some of the soot in the bottom of the used candle too but I tried anyway. This particular candle below had a lot of soot so I got more into the new glass than I wanted. I was hoping it would settle out like it had in the hot water bath but the wax sets up to fast.

The wax hardens from the bottom up which didn't give the soot time to settle out like we were hoping

Ta Da!
The size of our votive holders were slightly different and the large one is a double shot glass so that one held a lot of wax. We each got a new candle from each of the old spent ones plus a little extra to make a layered one (on the end). For the layered candle, I just put the glass in the refrigerator after the first layer to make it set up faster and once that was firm enough I added the second layer of wax. I was worried that pouring melted wax over the first layer would melt it again but it held up with just a few minutes in the fridge.

After they had set up we found that the middles had sunk in each candle. I'm not sure how this will affect total wax usage :/

So now I have all these new candles and a bunch of dirty, empty jars. Hmmmm... I had seen something on Pinterest about how to clean them so I dug it up the Pin and tried it out (see the tutorial here ).
I put one of my jars in the freezer but only left it in there for probably about 30 minutes instead of the "at least an hour" like the tutorial suggests. It was perfectly fine in this case since there really wasnt much wax left in the jar. I also peeled the label of first and much to my surprise found that it came right off with no fight.

Just out of the freezer

The remaining wax shrinks and cracks as it pulls away from the glass. SCIENCE!

This is after using a butter knife to break it up. Lots of wax still clinging to the jar.

I hacked away at it with an old butter knife first, then scraped the inside with a flexible plastic scraper I use for cleaning. Once most of it was out I cleaned it thoroughly with hot soapy water and the rough side of a sponge and finished it off with some citrus based de-gummer to remove the label from the bottom. I ended up with a beautifully clean jar to use around the house!

It reminds me of the apothecary jars I love but never buy because they're expensive.
Lessons Learned

1. Soot transfer is an issue but once the wax cools and sets up it's not very noticeable. I think maybe putting the newly poured candles on a warming plate would allow the wax to stay warm enough so that any transferred soot could at least settle out first. I don't have a warming plate so if someone gives it a try let me know how it goes!

2. Uneven settling of the wax is an issue but I have no idea how to fix that. Research is needed!!

3. An expensive, good quality candle in a nice glass jar is worth the money with a little extra work! This could be a fun project to do with older kids too.

I will DEFINITELY be doing this again. I have another one of my jars in the freezer as I type this so that once clean I can use it in my bathroom for cotton swabs. Not only do you get every last drop of yummy smelling wax out of these but you get a beautiful glass jar with a lid when it's all over!! Now THAT'S worth $23!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Dumpster Dresser

I have a soft spot in my heart for broken, unwanted things. It explains a hand full of my high school and college friendships and certainly half the furniture in my house so when my neighbor told me there was a dresser in front of one of our dumpsters I couldn't resist. I tossed the kids in the wagon and went to check it out. It was broken and abused. Sad and unwanted. But solid wood with dovetailed drawers. Of its 4 drawers, one was completely missing and another was broken, its front face dislocated completely from the rest of it. I saw through it's rough demeanor and brought the van back to get it. I wrestled it into the back of my van by myself and drove it back to my unit with the hatch open, that's how determined I was to save her from the land fill.

Despite the missing drawer I saw that the ledge where the top drawer had rested was completely flat and level all the way to the back of the dresser and could easily (and fabulously!) be converted into a shelf. The broken drawer was an easy fix as none of the joints were broken, it was just dislocated. I busted out my wood glue and put it back together. There was a big chunk missing from one of the legs which I planned to fix with wood filler and the top sheet of wood was peeling up but that got glued and clamped over night. With her major repairs done, I just needed to clean her up and give her a makeover.

A puzzle that hopefully won't come undone again

I forgot to take the picture with the clamps on but this is the corner where the top board was peeling up- FIXED!
A month or two passed and it hung out in my dining room next to the ill fitting corner hutch (positioned flush against a straight wall) while I worked on smaller projects and generally enjoyed the summer with my kids. It was really quite useful and re-fired my desire for a more fitting dining room storage piece (more about that later). In the meantime I was trying to decide how to refinish this little gem when it hit me one day while looking through my boards on Pinterest. I really like how this dresser re-do looks with a painted and antiqued body and stained top portion. That was it!
It had been storming pretty hard here in New Hampshire but I decided I could safely strip the top of this dresser right in my kitchen while my youngest napped and my oldest was in school (the jug says safe for indoor use). I gooped it on there nice and thick and gave an hour or so before scraping. As I thought, the stain didn't come off completely in the tight little crevices but I like how it looks anyway so I'm not going to worry about getting every scrap of old finish off.

Proof that I did, in fact, apply generously!
Scraped and cleaned up- already a big improvement!
A close up of the result
It continued raining for a couple of days after that so I gave it all weekend to dry out completely before sanding. I did a lot of reading about how to apply stain and polyurethane and like always it was very clear that sanding is a must. I started with a very course grit sand paper (100) and worked lightly with the grain on just the stripped top of the dresser. It took the remaining finish off without any real effort on my part. I finished it off with a fine grit (220) and again lightly worked with the grain. It was super smooth after, like buttah. After that I used the same piece of fine grit and lightly roughed up the rest of the dresser. My goal is to do an antique finish on this so I don't want to loose all that authentic wear in the current finish. I also discovered during sanding that the pink looking blob on the unsanded drawer below was more likely to have been an escaped bit of stripper rather than frosting like I thought. It did eat through the finish a little and left a blob shaped dent which I didn't want to sand down too much partly because I was worried about blending it and partly because I just didn't want to. I'm impatient, we've covered this :)

Yes, this is the actual width of my galley kitchen. And yes, I did this all inside my tiny kitchen. And yes, I did have dust everywhere afterwards.
With the dresser all sanded down it was time to finish her. I wandered around Home Depot for like an hour and a half pondering and picking out paint, stain, polyurethane and brushes. I had a piece of plywood cut by a very nice (and patient) man to my exact dimensions and was lucky enough to find a simple piece of skinny edging that was almost the same exact width as the plywood. Overall it was a very pleasant trip with my 6 year old daughter who was fascinated by the saw and the paint mixing machine and happily played games on my phone while I poked about the rest of the time.
After the kids were in bed that night I started to just check to make sure that the plywood fit where it  was intended to go and although I told my husband I was just going to check it and wouldn't be working on it right then because the kids were in bed and I couldn't be banging nails and stuff like that blah, blah, blah that's exactly what I ended up doing. I laid down some wood glue and put the plywood in place (it fit PERFECT, sliding in place with a couple of taps of the mallet) and then hammered in a few brads just to make sure it was secure.

 I was lucky that the ledge that the drawer slid on went straight all the the way to the back of the dresser which worked perfectly for the support of the shelf.
Tight squeeze. You probably could hear my less than exemplary language from where you were. You can also see the raw edge of the plywood which I needed to cover up with the $2 wood edging I bought.
 Next I measured and cut the edging and then glued and nailed that in place as well.

The use of a brightly colored pencil is not required but definitely adds some flare to your project.

We'll just cover that up...
Missing drawer conversion to shelf: DONE!
Now it's time for COLOR! I dragged it outside, dropped it on my toe (OUCH!) and then vacuumed any remaining dust that may have been on it and taped it up with some large sheets of paper to protect the bottom from getting dripped on. Good thing the painters tape I used is so old that it didn't really hold up the paper! Oh well, good enough.
I was nervous about this part. I've never worked with wood stain before so I didn't know what to expect and honestly I wouldn't have been surprised if the can had grown lips and told me I wasn't qualified to use it when I opened it up. It did no such thing of course and went willingly onto my cheap foam brush. I painted it on slowly and consistently, overlapping my edges slightly as I had read was required for a nice finish. I let it sit for about 5 minutes (the can suggests 5-15 minutes but 5 was all I could stand) and then wiped it down with an old white cloth diaper to spread it out and make sure all the excess was soaked up. Now came the real hard part: waiting the 4-6 hours before doing a second coat!

That front piece of paper was a lost cause at this point.
After one coat of stain
After 2 coats of stain
I stopped at 2 coats as I was totally digging the color it achieved. After a few hours I was ready to start putting on the polyurethane. Just like with the stain, I have never worked with poly before and after reading up on the best way to apply poly for a super shiny finish here I was both prepared and completely intimidated. I hadn't been able to find a brush in all of Home Depot that's package said "natural bristles" so I decided to use one of the cheap foam brushes I bought instead. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the poly was pretty easy to work with; one good dip into the can with the brush was enough to make it close to halfway across the top surface. I got one good coat on it and let it dry overnight.
The next day I planned to second coat it and prime the bottom portion as well. I was not about to mess up my finish by wrestling it outside by myself again so I threw down a drop cloth in my dining room and opened a window (AFTER I wrestled the air conditioner out of the window by myself- RAWR). The can of poly says to use a 220 grit paper between coats so I very lightly sanded the dried first coat and cleaned it up thoroughly afterwards. I was a bit nervous as you could see the scratches the sand paper left in the shiny surface, even though I had sanded very lightly to avoid that very thing. I taped up the bottom (see below) to preserve a clean line between the stained and polyurethaned top and the painted bottom.

You can see the scratches left by the sand paper
I got another coat of poly on the top and started priming. I got to the front and realized I'd forgotten to repair the big chunk that had been broken off one of the legs. Oops. I repaired it using some epoxy for wood repair and once it was dried and cured (about 15 minutes) I just sanded it flat and primed over it. Sweet :)

Stinky play doh for furniture DIY'ers!
I was on a roll so I didn't stop there. After priming (2 coats) and drying I had my husband help me bring it outside and I started painting. I had picked out an off-white color for the dresser, something with a subtle "greige" under tone in a satin finish. It only took one coat. My excitement which was growing all day was peaking out at max levels. This dresser was looking seriously good.

Wow, right?!
I let it dry over the weekend because the next step was to antique it and I wanted to make sure that the paint was completely dry and sandable without peeling like latex paint is want to do. I grabbed my 220 grit sand paper and worked at sanding off areas of the dresser where you would expect to find natural wear over time. My goal with this was a natural antique finish rather than the heavy stuff I've been seeing all over the internet. I like a cleaner look, more chic than shabby. After that I applied the antiquing glaze in the areas where I had sanded and obsessed over this for at least an hour.

Sanded but before antique glaze

After antiquing

Subtle but it gets the point across
I had saved the original hardware which was horribly dirty and tarnished. I cleaned them up with some warm soapy water and then scrubbed them with some steal wool before mounting them to some paper bowls and spray painting them with the oil brushed bronze finish paint I had used on a couple of previous projects. These were handles rather than knobs which presented a challenge as the handles would lay down on the flat surface when drying and that would obviously mess up the final finish. I ended up hanging the bowl with mounted hardware upside down inside my kids' sand buckets and let them dry that way. Brilliant, I know ;)

You'll just have to use your imagination as to what the hardware looks like drying upside down inside the buckets :)
I also got a great tip from my step dad- after the second coat of poly I used steel wool to sand it down instead of the fine grit sandpaper and was relieved to find it worked much better. I got a good sanding and as long as I went with the grain of the piece you can't really see the very fine scuffs left behind. I did some research and found what I was looking for here so that I can go back to the store and get a natural bristled brush for my third and final coat of poly. I found that the foam brushes introduced a lot of tiny bubbles in the surface so I wasn't going to get the super shiny unbroken surface I was after if I kept using those.
I was able to pick up a cheap natural bristled brush at the craft store in town and finished off the last coat of polyurethane. I really am thrilled with how it came out. I'm having a really hard time with the idea of selling this little beauty. I just love it!

The top is so shiny I got a reflection like I was shooting a mirror!

Close up of the distressed and antiqued finish

Lessons Learned

#1: Foam brushes work great for stain but not so much for polyurethane. I was able to pick up a natural bristled brush for a whopping $1.49 so definitely get one if you're planning on using poly.

#2: Skip sanding with a fine grit sand paper on polyurethane. Maybe a finer grit paper would work better? I don't know but steel wool definitely does a good job. Avoid sanding in circular motions though and continue sanding with the grain of the wood for well hidden sanding marks.

#3: One man's trash is another man's treasure! Someone else deemed this dresser a lost cause and tossed it in the trash. I saw it differently and look what I ended up with!

I hope this inspires you to save something from the land fill and restore it to a new found glory. With just a little bit of work you might end up with something fantastic and it's cheaper and more fulfilling than buying particleboard run-of-the-mill McFurniture. Don't be ashamed to dumpster dive!