Early 1800's Antique Dresser
Before / During
I had a long debate with myself as to whether or not to paint this dresser. (I won't keep you in suspense -- I didn't paint it.) It would have been a lot quicker and easier to paint, but I loved the handcrafted workmanship and the veneer was lovely. Except of course where it was falling off. And a poor restoration will devalue the piece just as easily as painting it will. So although I'm not an expert restorer I kept my work to a minimum and left an easy path for a real expert to restore later as the case may be.
|Missing chipped, loose, and missing veneer.|
The main area of concern was the missing veneer that surrounds the drawers. The antique veneer is much thicker than modern day veneer and was difficult for me to source. So I removed the remaining veneer around the drawers and replaced it with iron on veneer banding. I know, I know, I know . . . it's not authentic, but remember I was working on getting this to a sale-able condition for everyday use and not an authentic restoration.
It was easy to apply the banding using a hot iron wrapped in foil. Afterwards I stained the new veneer. There's a lot of color variation in the veneer, and I tried to match my stain to the darker variant.
|Band-It Iron-On Veneer Banding|
|Preparing new veneer placement|
|Applied heat to banding with hot iron covered in foil.|
|Stain applied to new veneer. I applied 3 different stain colors.|
|Vertical veneer applied and getting ready to apply horizontal veneer.|
|Gaps in drawer bottoms from previous owner's repair.|
The next area that needed attention were the drawer bottoms. There were about 1/4" gaps where the bottoms meet the drawer fronts. I knew this when I bought the dresser and thought I would simply replace the bottoms. However, after I got it home and turned the drawers over, I saw that they were hand planed and chamfered. Let me tell you that they don't sell replacements like these anywhere!
|Photo showing the chamfered drawer bottoms. |
I slid these back into place and re-secured with nails.
The interior of the drawers were in overall good shape, but even after a few thorough cleanings, they appeared a bit dry. So I used Restore-A-Finish to refresh the drawers followed by beeswax conditioning. The drawers still retain their vintage charm, but are now suitable for everyday use.
|Interiors in good shape, but the wood was dry.|
|I applied Restore-A-Finish to refresh the wood.|
|It's not a dramatic change, but now it's got a fresh look |
while still maintaining its vintage charm.
The knobs needed some serious tightening. Most of the screws holding the knobs in were replacements at some point in time and they weren't a perfect fit. My husband was able to find some better fitting screws in his hardware stash, and now they work well for everyday use.
|View of center drawer|
|Photo of hand joinery craftsmanship|
|Interior view of lock|
|Close up of the beautiful veneer|
Another exciting part of this project is that it still has the original key. Unfortunately small items such as the key can easily go missing from my booth. So I taped it to one of my business cards and secured it to a drawer knob in the hopes that it will stay with the dresser.
This dresser is now ready for a new owner. If it doesn't sell then I'll need to re-think painting it, but for now it's restored and ready to be given a second chance.