This antique waxed pine dresser was given a makeover when the existing finish was sanded down and protected with MMS Milk Wax.
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Now that the weather is finally warming up, I can start to work on furniture again. It’s still too cold to use furniture stripper, primer or paint but it’s warm enough where I can be outside sanding furniture. Recently it was in the low 50s which was good enough for me!
I stopped by a Habitat for Humanity Re-store on a Friday afternoon just to see if there were any good finds. Admittedly, I don’t always have good luck at these stores but that day I happened upon an amazing find.
This pine cottage dresser was likely made in the 1880s. It had faux wood grain painting as well as acorns painted on the drawers. What you can’t see is that the existing paint job was in poor condition. The top of the dresser had paint missing and a variety of water rings. It also had two “glove boxes” on the top. As charming as this find was, the hard truth is, this dresser would not sell in its existing condition. If it was going to find a new loving home, it was going to need a makeover.
Aside from the existing paint job, the dresser did have a number of really excellent qualities. First, someone had spent many hours repairing the existing drawers. All the drawers were in good working condition. Second, the dresser was structurally sound. There weren’t any loose joints or missing rails. Third, this dresser was made out of antique PINE which is my absolute favorite variety of wood. I love the color, texture and warmth of antique pine furniture. It’s also fairly difficult to find antique pine furniture.
So after some thinking and pondering, I decided to buy the dresser and to take it home. As soon as I had 8 hours of free time and the weather permitted, I was outside giving this beauty a new look.
Step 1 – Cleaning the Pine Dresser
Admittedly, this is not an exciting first step – cleaning a piece of furniture. It is, however, very important to remove all the existing dirt because if you don’t – you will grind it into the wood grain when you start sanding.
So I filled up a bucket with hot water and concentrated Krud Kutter and got to work scrubbing and cleaning. The bucket water was black when I had finished cleaning. I put the dresser in the sun to dry for a few hours and after it was completely dry, I moved on to the next step.
Step 2- Sanding the Pine Dresser
Before I start sanding a piece of furniture, I always remove the drawers and any hardware. Then I try to do most of the sanding outside where there is good air circulation.
I started sanding the drawers first and then moved on to the body of the dresser. To the extent practical, I used the random orbital sander and I started with 120 grit sandpaper. Removing the existing finish and getting down to the original wood takes 3-4 hours of sanding.
For those areas where I can’t use the random orbital sander, I hand sanded using 120 grit sandpaper. It’s time consuming but worth the effort.
Once the dresser has been sanded with 120 grit sandpaper, I then go over it again with 220 grit sandpaper.
The photo above shows where I hand sanded the side of the dresser. The random orbital sander can’t reach the corners of the board inset into the dresser frame.
I was very lucky to find that under the paint, the dresser had been lime washed. I didn’t want to remove all the lime wash because it added to the history and character of the piece.
The photo above shows what the dresser looked like after I spent about 4-5 hours sanding and removing the existing finish. I decided to remove the boxes on the top of the dresser because my experience has been that people don’t like them nor do they have a use for them.
I think she is looking brighter and more cheerful after the sanding!
Step 3 – Waxing the Pine Dresser
After completely sanding the dresser, I used a damp terry cloth rag to completely wipe it down and remove any sanding dust. I went over the entire dresser, including the drawers, several times to remove any dust that may have accumulated. Then, once it was dry, I took it inside to wax it!
MMS Milk Wax
For those of you who have been following me know that I love MMS Milk Paint products because they are all natural, nontoxic, and because I love the authentic aged look the paint provides. I did not want to paint this dresser because antique pine is such a beautiful natural wood. However, I also didn’t want the wood to turn yellow or orange by applying a clear coat like a polycrylic. I wanted the wood to retain its natural color yet be protected so i decided to use MMS Milk Paint’s clear milk wax.
I love this wax because it protects the wood and doesn’t change the color. Initially the wax slightly darkens the wood but when the wax dries – the wood returns to its pre-wax look. The wax is buttery soft to put on and because it’s all natural there aren’t any strong chemical odors.
You can buy any of MMS Milk paint wax products using this link .
Step 4 – Revived Wax Pine Dresser
The dresser looks better now that she has been sanded and sealed with MMS milk wax! I also gave her a new set of glass knobs. Just between you and I, you can’t go wrong when you combine antique pine and glass knobs.
The top of the dresser looks so much better now. It’s difficult to believe there were glove boxes attached.
Here is one more look at the side of the waxed pine dresser. I love how the lime wash is still slightly peeking through.
Here is one final look at the dresser so you can see how the natural color shines through. I also like the fact that wax leaves a matte finish.
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Thank you for stopping by the blog today! I hope you are inspired to refinish an old pine dresser. They are definitely worth the investment in time and energy. This dresser will be headed to Stone Soup Antiques Gallery where she will be waiting for her new owner.