Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Narrower dresser part 2: the drawers

Those of you following along with this blog back in July of TWENTY-TWELVE, you can finally release your breath. The Franken-dresser project has been completed! For those of you who haven't been around that long (or for those of you who have forgotten all the little details in the past year and a half), here's a quick recap of what happened:
Photos from this post
We had an awkward corner in our guest room that needed something, and an extra dresser that would have been perfect for the space if it were just ten inches narrower. So, we cut it in half! Using a circular saw, wood glue, putty, and a LOT of winging it, we were able to disassemble this dresser and reassemble it so it would fit in the space. We held off on doing the drawers at that time and instead hung a burlap curtain inside the dresser so we could store stuff in it without making it look cluttered.
Thing is, we never got around to narrowing the drawers. It's been like this for a year and a half.
Eventually, we switched up the function of the guest room from TV room to actual guest room, and so the bird moved into our bedroom, and at that point, we'd had it! The extra drawers had been sitting in our bedroom (so much for an oasis space, right??!) and it was TIME! The clutter was stressing us out, and since it had been long enough between the start of the project that I'd forgotten what a pain it was to use wood glue on furniture, I figured it was time to finish this puppy. Time to skinnify up some drawers!
Click to see the tutorial. 

The process began with the re-installation of all of the drawer slides and support braces. The drawer slides were supposed to be screwed into place on the front of the dresser, but that would have gone straight through the glue that connected the two halves of the dresser together. Rather than threaten the structural integrity, I glued the slides into place with a dab of Gorilla glue. The back brace was held in place the same way.
Next, we determined how much we'd have to take out of the drawers for them to function properly in the newly skinny dresser, and got to work! Rather than cutting them all the way in half like we did for the dresser itself, we removed the bottom and back of each drawer carefully (ours was held in place with a little glue) and then cut the front piece out, so we were left with 2 L-shaped front and side pieces of the correct width.
Instead of cutting the middle out of each drawer back, we chopped half of the needed width off each side (see right). This  left the drawer slide hardware intact, so that when reassembled the drawers would be able to open and close easily while remaining level.
To assemble the new drawers, I started by putting the bottom and sides together, and finished by attaching the backs. This part was hard to photograph since I was doing this by myself, forgive the crooked pictures! Because I took the drawers apart carefully, the grooves to hold the back and bottom were still intact, so a little glue inside the groove kept the pieces secure enough to start.

I also reinforced each line of glue with a small finishing nail, to make sure the pieces were attached firmly.
Once the glue was dried and the drawers could be handled without falling apart, I filled in the cracks and holes in the front with wood filler.
I made a really wonky cut on one of the drawers  unfortunately, so there was a fairly large gap to fill on that one. Since it would take a lot of putty to fill that all the way up, I slid a few spare pieces of wood inside the crack to partially fill it, then puttied around the pieces.
I made sure to put in more putty than it seemed would be necessary, because it was easier to sand it all down than have to re-fill them again.
When the putty was dry, a quick pass of the belt sander made the drawer fronts smooth as a baby's bottom! (an orbital sander or regular sandpaper is fine too, it just would take longer). And that's it!
I did all the drawers the same way save the bottom one. I wanted a spot for my printer, and decided that just the drawer face was necessary in that case. :).
2 coats primer, 3 coats color. Brush strokes are nearly invisible.
Now for paint and primer. The dresser had been "blue-washed" initially, and while we loved it at the time, It looked pretty sloppy in places and we wanted a solid finish this time. So, I slapped 2 coats of primer and three coats of the teal color using a 2-inch brush, and followed it by a single coat of spray poly (the same type we used on our old dining room table).
A few coats of spray poly later...... and it's done!
I also spray painted the original knobs an oil-rubbed bronze color and stuck them back on in their new places.
With that, the dresser was {mostly} finished! The bottom drawer still needs to be attached to the unit with a set of hinges, which I'll tackle at another time. Hopefully, sooner than a year and a half from now!

The dresser has taken residence downstairs in our living room. The pop of teal beneath the TV plays well with the colors we have in there already, and it ties in our custom-colored DIY chalkboard that's done in the same color (even though you it doesn't look the same color in this photo, I promise it is!)

We love the dresser in its new spot with the bright solid paint job and spiffy knobs. The drawers hold a LOT, which is nice to corral extra candles and remotes. Because that's pretty much all that we need in a living room, right? Not to mention the secret hiding spot for the printer, the door to which will *someday* be attached...

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