Victorian Dresser


When I work on furniture projects, it always seems to be in batches.  I usually have 4 or 5 different projects going at the same time.  When I am waiting for one piece to dry – I can go sand another piece. If I get frustrated working on one piece, I take break and start working on another piece. Sometimes, I am not sure what I am going to “do” with a piece of furniture.  I am not sure what color it will be or how I want it to look.  So, I wait until I get an “Ah-ha” moment.  This happens when I can clearly picture in my mind what I want the piece to look like.

That was the situation for this dresser.  I purchased it from an antique fair in upstate New York.  The dresser was in really good condition.  The drawers all worked.  The craftsmanship was great.  It just looked so – well- old and unloved and worn down and well – not very attractive. Still, there was something there . . . so, I bought it.

Upon getting it home, I promptly cleaned it.  Took it apart.  Cleaned the inside and found WAY too many spiders.  Ugh.

Here is a “before” photo.


Original finish on the dresser


Yes, I also found a giant architectural corbel too. (Separate story but really great find) I forgot to remove it from the top of the dresser when I took photos. So, do me a favor and just pretend that it’s not there.

As you can see, the dresser is orangey/red and it has a shiny varnished finish.

It sat in the garage for several weeks before I started to sand it.  Once I started sanding, I had the “ah-ha” moment and knew what I was going to do.  The wood underneath was beautiful.  That perfect aged wood with character and grace.

I spent the next several hours sanding the entire piece with 80 grit sand paper.  I took a break, then went back to sanding it some more with 150 grit sand paper.  Took another break. Finally, I went over the entire piece with 220 grit.  To protect the finish and seal it, I decided just to do a coat of wax.  I really didn’t want to detract from the natural color of original wood.

Here are some photos showing the final result:


Sanded and refinished dresser


close up of one of the drawers


Side view of the refinished dresser

All in all, I am happy with how it turned out.  It seems to be perfect for this time of year.  The warm wood compliments the cooler Fall temperatures. Thanks for reading and for following along!

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