Need advice on refinishing an old dresser

SteppyDecember 28, 2012

I still have my childhood dresser -- one of those 1960's ugly old early-american things with the colonial drawer pulls and plastic laminate top. It IS solid wood, though. I want to re-make it completely. Problem is, the veneer has peeled off in several places, and is falling apart on the sides. I've priced veneer -- YIKES! I did find some 2'x4' pine veneer for $13 a sheet but I'd need two sheets. The veneer on the sides is pretty much just torn up on the bottom, some missing. I was wondering if I could just glue what's there back down carefully and use epoxy wood filler to patch it, since I'm going to be painting the whole thing white. I know it would take a lot of work, but I've never replaced veneer, so I'd almost be afraid to. One friend suggested beadboard paneling on the side but I think that might be too thick. Open for suggestions.

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Any pics? Details and close ups would be helpful. sounds like a lot of work when you can get a free dresser off CL and not do any repairs at all....just apply paint....

    Bookmark   December 29, 2012 at 5:35PM
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Obviously, this dresser means something special to me if I've kept it for over 50 years, and any old dresser off of Craigslist won't do. I'll figure it out myself.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2013 at 7:36PM
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It sounds to me like you can glue down what is still there and fill in the rest with wood filler, then sand the whole thing smooth and paint.

If you do that you'll want to use a regular wood glue I think, spread VERY thin over the whole piece to be glued, press, wipe up any glue that squeezes out, lay wax paper over it, and weight it down with books, bricks etc. for a few hours till it dries.

An alternative, rather than replacing the entire veneer, woudl be to cut off the damaged part and just replace that. You have to get the same thickness of veneer, cut the old veneer in a straight line with a razor blade, clean it off, make sure it is perfectly flat and even, and glue on a new piece. Let it hang over the edge a bit, and after it dries, trim off with a razor blade or a router with a flush cutting bit. Of course, then you have to stain and finish it to match, which can be tricky. Filling and painting might be easier.

Good luck restoring your treasure!

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 3:11PM
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lady_alicia Zone 5/6 PA

Show us pics when you're done with it! I've refinished a lot of wooden dressers that have been in our family. For one, you won't find quality-built furniture today, tongue and groove, like they made years ago, without spending a fortune. The sentimental factor is big to me too.

This was my husband's dresser when he was a little boy. I took pictures of it before I stripped it because his dad painted the clown on it....which he hated as a little boy. It took a lot for me to remove that, even though he didn't like it. I know his dad worked hard on it. :( But my daughter needed a dresser for college, and she didn't want a clown looking at her in her dorm, so.......voila!

Have fun restoring the dresser, and I'm sure everyone would love to see it all done! :)


I guess I'll have to post the after in another post since I'm only allowed one picture.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 11:37PM
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lady_alicia Zone 5/6 PA

Here it is refinished!

Good luck with your dresser, Steppy!


    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 11:39PM
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That's beautiful!
I've decided to remove the old veneer and use paintable wallpaper that looks like beadboard on the sides. It will be awhile before I can get it done, but I'm thinking it will be beautiful. The other day, I found a huge bag of old white wooden knobs at Goodwill Bargain Barn and I'm hoping to use those on it.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 2:35PM
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That sounds like a great idea, the paintable wallpaper! I would LOVE to see how this looks! I found a wooden dresser on a curb and hauled it home. We use our dining room as an office but its in the front of the house and I wanted it to still look not officey. I took off the old knobs, primed the dresser and painted it white and several layers of eurothayne (sp?) It has some parts pealing up as well but for me, its shabby chic appeal! We use the dresser as a "file cabinet". Got the glass knobs on eBay. Can't wait to see your finished product!

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 12:15PM
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Nice work everyone.

BTW that's 'urethane'. :-]

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 4:02PM
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