East #5: CQ in DC's Nearly New Nightstands

Name: CQ in DC
Location: Washington, DC
Time: one Saturday- probably only about 4 hours once I factor in time spent distracted by two other concurrent projects
Cost: $20

Why buy new when you can restore? We applaud CQ's gumption and skill in bringing back this lovely Danish modern piece to nearly mint condition. Hey, some things really do get better with age. Head below the jump for all her pics, tools, and instructions and VOTING...

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BEFORE

Tell us the tools and resources you used for the project:

As you can see, I used very few tools for this project. I did not want the mess and hassle of sanding and stripping the nightstands, especially on this the coldest weekend yet of the DC winter. I decided to do what I could with Howard Restor-a-Finish ($8.99) and Howard Feed-n-Wax ($8.99). I bought the mahogany refinisher because the bed is mahogany so I wanted to add a bit more red to the nightstands to help them match. The screwdriver, old t-shirt, and pewter knobs were already in my toolbox so total project cost was about $20 with tax.

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MY TOOLS

Share step by step instructions for how you completed the project:

I found two of these bureaus on Craigslist for $40 each, and knew they would make the perfect nightstands for my very tall antique bed. As you can see, they are quite battered- they were in the seller's bedroom from early childhood until his wife decided they had to go. They are solid wood and I love the shape and size, but obviously the finish (especially on top) was shot. I've been meaning to work on them for a few months; thanks AT and Blueprint for finally pushing me into it.

OK, I have to admit that I had my doubts about the Restor-a-Finish right up until I started using it- look at the difference on the battered top of this nightstand in the in-process photo! The process is so easy- saturate clean rag with Restor-a-Finish, wipe onto wood, let dry. That's it- no buffing, sanding, scrubbing etc; just wipe on and let dry. I did just half of the top to capture the difference- unbelievable isn't it?

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DURING

In the end, I did two coats of the Restor-a-Finish and then two coats of the Feed-N-Wax. The wax is a bit more complicated, but still pretty easy in the grand scheme of furniture refinishing. I wiped on the wax, left it for 20 minutes, then wiped off the unabsorbed excess. There wasn't much to wipe off the first time around- I suspect this nightstand was crying out for hydration- so I wiped on another coat. The second time around I was able to wipe off excess which I figured was a good sign. The last step was to buff the wax coat to a high shine with a clean rag. Actually, I guess screwing in the new hardware was the technical last step, but the impact of that change pales in comparison to the waxing...

Look at that shine! I am actually astonished at how much better the nightstands look. Obviously, stripping and restaining would yield even better results, but that was more time and energy than I ever wanted to invest in these pieces at this point. For $20 and a solid day of work, I'm delighted with the final results.

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AFTER

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Maxwell left teaching in 2001 to start Apartment Therapy as a design business helping people to make their homes more beautiful, organized AND healthy. The website started up in 2004 with the help of his brother, Oliver.

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