My library card catalog cabinet is finally finished, and let me tell you, it was a beast of a project. But well worth it as far as I’m concerned, because this is a classic piece of furniture with a story behind it, and I was happy to hopefully do it justice by restoring it. For those of you who missed the original post, here’s a quick recap for you: My grandparents rescued this card catalog from a vacant school building owned by a family friend. It had been sitting there for years, and would have probably ended up in the dumpster (I know, how awful!). The owner of the school building let them have it for free, so they took it home in pieces and little by little with the help of some family members, we schlepped it home to Atlanta from their house in Indiana. The orange-y stain was faded and the varnish had bubbled and peeled in some spots, and it desperately needed to be refinished. It was missing one drawer, and a few other drawers got broken, but I’ll show you my solution for that (ultimately, I’d love to replace the missing drawer and repair the others). It’s currently located in our living room (aka my “mom cave”).
I opted not to paint it after going back and forth about it in my head. I really just wanted to stain it and keep it classic. This is a piece I plan on keeping forever and I don’t want to do anything “trendy” to it, plus I love the look of the wood. I feel like although it has been restored, it still has a vintage feel, complete with imperfections and patina on the hardware, etc. Painting it would have been pretty too, it just wasn’t the look I was going for this time. (Here are tutorials for how I stripped it and stained it.)
I opted to fill the bottom row with jars since I am missing a drawer and two are broken. The drawers are perfect for storing my craft supplies.
Here are the supplies I used for this project:
- Murphy’s Oil Soap
- Putty Knife
- Minwax Pre-Stain Conditioner
- Minwax Dark Walnut Stain
- Minwax Satin Wipe-On Poly
- White Cloths
- Rubber Gloves
Now let’s take a walk down memory lane and look at some “Before” and “during the process” pics. I had never seen it all put together until after it was refinished. It arrived at our home in pieces, and since it was so heavy I opted to refinish it before putting it together. It’s hard to tell in photos how yucky the finish was. It looked very “veneered” and was bubbly in some spots, and had a bit of an orange tint to it.
First I stripped the entire thing – and yes, this was a super tedious process considering all of the little drawers involved. Next, I rubbed it down with mineral oil to remove the residue. Then I sanded it, pre-conditioned it, stained it with Minwax Dark Walnut and coated it twice with polyurethane. The whole thing took me several weeks because I did it little by little, but the majority of the work took place over the past couple of weeks.
I am beyond happy to be finished with it, and I can’t wait to store all of my craft and office supplies in it. It really is a beautiful piece of furniture, and I am still pinching myself at the thought of it being totally free. Thanks (times a million) to my wonderful grandparents for snatching it up for me! It will always be a very special piece.
This was a labor of love, but I’m so glad it’s finished! Have you refinished any furniture that you just couldn’t bring yourself to cover up with paint? Do you have any pieces that have sentimental value to you, or a cool story behind it? I’d love to hear about it!
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