A lot of people tend to steer clear of pieces with significant veneer damage. But these pieces are often perfect candidates for paint. We found this dresser in a thrift shop, and despite the surface damage, we knew we could do something fun with it.
There was a significant amount of veneer missing or peeling on the drawers and on both sides of the dresser. The top also had a lot of damage, including these big water marks. The drawers were missing nails and needed some minor repairs as well.
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I started by pulling off all the loose veneer. I had read that you could fill missing veneer with Bondo, so I decided to try it on one of the drawers and use regular wood filler on the rest.
Here’s the spot where I applied the Bondo.
And here it is with the Bondo completely dry and sanded. It was a lot harder to get an even finish than I thought it would be, and it’s still not perfect but it’s the best I could do.
My thoughts on the Bondo after using it once are: 1.) It stinks to high heaven! Seriously, you need to use this stuff outside. 2.) It dries to an extremely hard finish. I should have started sanding before it was 100% dry because it was like concrete once fully dry. 3) It sands to a nice smooth finish that takes paint well. I think with some practice it could be a neat tool to work with, but for the most part I think regular old wood filler is easier to use.
(Update: Several people had questions about the Bondo process, so I put together a step by step tutorial for using Bondo to repair furniture).
The wood filler was easier to sand and a bit more forgiving. And it didn’t stink which was great since it’s like 15 degrees outside and I’m working in the house. This is the wood filler I used, and this is the sander I love.
I sanded those nasty water marks and filled some holes on the top too. Once all the damage was sanded I applied the first coat of paint….and came back when it was dry to find the stain bleeding through the paint. Two coats of Zinsser Shellac took care of that problem and I was finally able to get a couple coats of paint on it. The paint I used is Annie Sloan chalk paint in Old White.
I decided to paint this French Winemaker graphic from The Graphics Fairy on the front of the dresser. I used Annie Sloan “Graphite” for the graphic. You can find our detailed instructions for painting graphics on furniture here.
The insides of the two top drawers were really stained and funky looking, even after a thorough cleaning, so I decided to decoupage them with a French-themed scrapbooking paper.
The bottom drawers were in better shape so I left the insides alone and just added the same paper to the outside of the drawers.
I decided to use the existing hardware on the bottom drawers and just paint them the same as the dresser. They were not original to the dresser and I wish I could’ve seen what the original hardware looked like. I added clear knobs to the top drawers because there was already a lot going on and I wanted to keep it simple.
I distressed it lightly with a fine grit sanding block, then sealed it with clear wax.
This piece was definitely a labor of love, but I feel like I learned a lot and I’m happy with how it turned out. We delivered it to our booth over the weekend and it someone purchased it the same day.
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