When I bought my house, there were three pieces of furniture left by the
previous owners. They were, to use the proper Anglican term for them,
utter shite, mainly because they were usually covered with brush-maimed
strokes of thick paint. One of these was a bureau which sat in my
basement for a few years. The drawers were missing knobs, and they slid
in and out at odd angles. At one point, I used it as a stand for my
table saw, and even gouged some small holes in the top with a drill.
A few months ago, on a whim, I dabbed some paint stripper (Peel Away 6)
on the top to see what was underneath, and found a fairly nicely-grained
cherry veneer under some goo that was once a nice finish. So, I began
taking the paint off. After a few weeks of on-and-off labor, I managed
to reveal a bureau that, well, had some potential. It wasn't perfect,
but with the right stain and finish, well... So I laid in some sandpaper
of different grits, picked up some wood putty, some small cans of Minwax
finishes and clear polyurethane, replacement knobs, and set to work.
I tested the finishes on the inside of one of the drawers, where the
as though it was the same as the veneer on the front and
top. They looked nice when I first applied them, but when they dried,
they looked, well, drab. But then I applied some polyurethane to the
patches, and learned that poly makes the stuff look as wet and lush as
it did when first applied. (Yes, I'm a novice at this.) Sedona Red had
my nod for the color, so on it went.
The one problem that arose was the top, which I'd wanted to look nice
and smooth and clean. First coat went on. Went over it with sandpaper,
did a second coat... and half an hour into the drying, I spilled a
handful of sawdust on it. Cleaned off that whole layer, reapplied it.
Then I noticed that the rear corner was, well, less glossy, and even a
bit bare and grainy. Couldn't apply just a small patch and make it blend
into the rest, so a third coat had to go on. This time, I
by diluting the polyurethane with mineral spirits; I
figured, with thinner poly, not only would the bubbles rise and pop
faster, but the contours of the brushstrokes would even out better. Net
result was one very smooth tabletop.
(Next time, I will experiment with diluted poly and a hand-pump spray
bottle, to apply it in a fine mist, for a nice, even topcoat.)
The bureau is now doing duty in my dining room as a buffet. I'll have to
line two of the drawers with felt, mainly to cover the crummy wallpaper
the prevous owner'd laid down in there. And there are some odd
drawer-corners where the veneer is chipped. But the thing looks really
And like I said, there are two more pieces in the set.