Waxed Pine Dresser

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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.

Antique Cottage Dresser

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.

Top of cottage dresser

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.

Cleaning Cottage Dresser

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.

sanding drawer fronts on cottage dresser

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.

Cottage dresser after sanding

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

Waxed 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.

Waxed Pine Dresser

Here is one more look at the side of the waxed pine dresser. I love how the lime wash is still slightly peeking through.

Waxed Pine Dresser

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.

Similar Projects

If you liked reading about the transformation of this dresser, you might also like to read about.

Antique Pine Blanket Chest
Antique Pine Dresser 2
Antique oak dresser with basket and cutlery on top


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.

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      1. Pam- Thanks for your honesty. I recognize that this doesn’t reflect everyone’s taste.

  1. Another stunning transformation! I too, love the lime wash peeking through, it gives the piece so much character. Also, amazing what waxing can do to transform a piece of furniture. Beautiful work.

    I just noticed a little thrift store in my neighborhood; I’m going to have to start checking it out for treasures. It’s opening hours are quite limited, so I haven’t made it inside yet, but I’ll get there! Your blog will help me identify the hidden potential within, and how to bring it out!! Thank you!

    1. Oh fabulous! The best treasures are always found at little neighborhood thrift stores! Happy hunting Susan!!

    1. Hi Cindy! I was just visiting your blog today! Thank you for commenting and for the kind words.

    1. Hi Carol- Thank you for stopping by and reading the post! I so appreciate it. Glass handles seem to go well with raw wood!

  2. Thanks for sharing! You did an amazing job. Never would have realized what potential it had before you re-did it. I just purchased a basket of milk paint from Marian’s garage sale. I am looking forward to reading all of your tutorials on milk paint!

    1. Hi Elizabeth! Fabulous! You will have so much fun using the milk paint. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions. Thank you for commenting on the post.

  3. You constantly blow me away with your talent and skills, Anna! I love the transformation you gave this dresser. It doesn’t even look like the same piece! Sharing on Friday – it’s beautiful! Big hugs, CoCo

  4. Beautiful piece! I have a live edge piece of pine I’m using for a bar height counter behind my sink. It really won’t be used for dishes and drinks, more just decorations. Would you recommend the milk paint clear or the food safe wax? I’m still undecided about using something like that or just a butcher block conditioner with wax. Thanks for any advice!

    1. Hi Melinda. Thanks for taking the time to comment. If your wood will be exposed to moisture, I would apply a more durable finish such as MMS milk coat in a matte finish. Another great product for sealing wood without altering the color is General Finishes Flat out Flat. Those are both good options if you want a more waterproof finish.
      However, if you aren’t concerned about moisture, then you can apply MMS milk wax. If you aren’t using it for food prep – then you could use MMS clear milk wax. If you plan to use the wood for any type of food – then I would recommend the Eco Wax.
      Hope this helps!

  5. Hi

    Love what you did with the chest of draws. May I ask how much of the milk wax / paint you needed?

    Warm regards


    1. Hi Rob – The amount of milk wax needed depends upon the wood and the size of the pieces. For this particular dresser I used about 4 oz of wax to seal it. I purchased a 16 ounce container of the wax – so I used 25% of the container. Hope this helps.

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