I am refinishing an older oak dresser. I have stripped 3 layers of paint and
will be applying a fresh coat of white latex the visible areas.
My question involves the cleaning and finishing of the insides of the
drawers. It seems like this piece has been sitting in the garage for some
time (Got it from someone else). The wood is still in great condition, but
the drawers are a little musty and dusty. I want to be able to use this to
put baby clothes in and not get them dirty. I was thinking that painting in
the drawers was overkill, but wondering what I should do?
I was thinking I should probably clean with mineral spirits then maybe some
light sanding, but is there any type of simple sealer or finish that is
designed for this purpose?
Shellac is ideal for this purpose. You don't have to be good at
applying it since it will be inside the drawers. You can even put it on
with a rag. Put on a coat or two and then lightly sand it smooth. I
routinely use shellac on the inside of drawers especially those used for
baby or children's clothes. It seals in whatever is still in the wood and
the sanding creates a smooth enough surface such that clothes do not snag on
the errant splinter.
A 2nd vote for shellac, especially with old furniture. Some finishes
(especially water base) may have trouble adhering to old and musty where you
don't know what might have gotten into it. Shellac will stick to most
So I have read a lot that shellac is mostly used only on restoration of old
furniture since it doesn't hold up well against water or alcohol. Obviously
these things should be found inside baby dresser drawers! Just curious why
shellac would be better than a varnish which seems to be more durable?
It's been a while, but as I recall babies' drawers have a smell all their
I would suppose that other fast-evaporating solvent finish - lacquer - would
do as well and can be delivered by aerosol.
Shellac holds up to water better than you might think.
Edwin Pawlowski is absolutely correct about the odor. Shellac also
dries really quickly and does not have the odor of lacquer thinner either.
It is relatively cheap. After thinning appropriately with alcohol, it can
be applied with a rag without looking terrible. Lacquer can't. This makes
shellac easier to use in tight interior corners. Best of all for the
paranoid, it is non-toxic. While cured lacquer should be as well, the films
are proprietary and no one will make the claim. Finally, if desired, it is
the easiest finish to remove after wax.
It's a matter of degree. While none of the common finishes will hold up to
long-term water, shellac is not as fragile as one might think. It's use in
restoration is primarily because much of the old furniture was originally
finished with shellac. On that note, many of them are still in very good
In new furniture I use it both inside drawers, and as a base coat for many
other finishes. In the shop, a shellac finish is very durable for jigs and
fixtures, and an occasional brush against alcohol and water has no effect.
Repair is also easier.
As for using spray laquer instead, that should work just as well, simply more
expensive. I'll also note that drawer insides typically do not get nearly the
same thickness of finish that we apply on the outsides; just look at any
typical piece of furniture. If I was finishing the outside with laquer and had
some left in the gun, I'd just use it for the drawers.
On Wed, 21 Jul 2004 06:34:18 GMT, "David"
lightly sand then finish in whatever paint you'd like or if you want the
wood to show use polyurethane, varnish, or shellac. Water based or water
borne varnish is probably the easiest to use of the choices. Not positive
but most likely the cheapest as well. Either way put a coat on let dry
overnight or 24 hours if you have it then sand with fine grit sandpaper or
sanding block, wipe with tack cloth or wet rag wrung out. Apply second coat
watch corners for excess build up.
most important tip about varnish poly or shellac is work it a little as
possible, by working it i mean brushing or rolling (sponge or 1/4 nap
mohair roller). These clear coatings with tack up very quickly and if you
try to roll or brush back over a section thats has tacked up you will not
like the results the coating will either leave a rough texture, pull up, or
roll/ball up also leaving a very rough texture so apply the coating to the
entire inside of drawer, unless reallly big drawer, then immediately and
very quickly go back over everything in the same order you put it on in
lightly with whatever your puttin it on with roller or brush. check for any
runs, heavy or light spot, or foreign matter in the coating ie hairs bugs
If you paint,use some sort of gloss, anything from eggshell to high gloss
will work. Flat finishes will allow anything spilled in the drawer to soak
into the wood. With a glossy or even eggshell finish the liquid will just
You said musty and dusty, if there are any water stains or mold you will
need to seal these first with an alkyd or oil based primer or primer from a
spray can will work in fact almost any spray paint makes an excelent
primer/stain killer. Priming will also take care of any mold issues.
If it stands still I can paint it.
If it's moving I'll just have
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