Thursday, March 10, 2016

Card Catalog Cabinet- The Big Reveal

 So here's where I left you last week. I had just cracked open the gel stain and was brushing it on my dresser.  I had hunted down this particular brand of stain because the manufacturer's guidelines said it could be used directly on wood veneer without any need for sanding. Every customer review and blog post I had read about this stuff supported that claim, so I was eager to get started.
I used a sponge brush for application, just like everyone recommended. And sure enough- the gel stain went on like a dream! So incredibly easy to use. I didn't have a single drip mark anywhere and the coverage and color was exactly what I'd been hoping for.
Here's the top of the chest of drawers with only one coat of gel stain. It's definitely patchy, but that's because it's not done yet.  This is what one of my favorite bloggers, Miss Mustard Seed, calls the "ugly stage".
The ugly stage is 100% predictable, but it always makes me a little bit nervous. I mean, look at this drawer. This is the stage where I begin to wonder and worry if things will ever turn out. But you just need to take a deep breath and keep on plugging.
In order to stain the groove in between the two "drawers", I had to use a small brush and dab the gel in there. This slowed me way down, but it was also the best way to get this job done.
Here's a view of the side panel with only one coat of gel stain. You can definitely see the uneven stroke marks here (particularly near the top lip of the cabinet). However, I wasn't too worried about that because I'd always planned on doing two coats of stain.
What ended up working best, though, was a much easier solution than staining the whole thing a second time. I just dry brushed a little bit of the stain in the areas I felt were too uneven. By doing it this way, I was able to save time, keep more patina in the piece and it ended up looking more legit.
After I let everything dry for 24 hours, it was time to seal this baby. The same technique was in play here- sponge brush, thin application in 2 coats and we'd be all done.
But that's not what happened. This happened. After barely brushing the sealer on the upper "drawer", it immediately started pulling off the dried gel stain. Insert colorful word choice here.
So I tried again using SUPER gentle brush strokes. I'm talking petting baby bunny gentle. No luck. More disaster and more colorful language from Cindy.
In the end, I decided to skip the top coat all together. I restained the areas that had been exposed by using the sealer and (hallelujah!) you couldn't tell where I'd had any trouble. I'm not sure how this piece will hold up with only the gel stain and no sealer. Everything I've read about how to use this stain on a veneer surface emphasizes the need for a top coat, but I can't imagine how others avoided the problems I encountered. I'm gonna keep my fingers crossed the stain is good enough on its own and hope for the best. I'll keep you updated on that as the months go by.
 Once everything had completely dried, it was time to put on the drawer pulls. We carefully measured and marked where they would go. I did a ton of research and ended up buying my hardware from a store in China that I found on Etsy. Full disclosure here- these pulls were a little flimsy and we had some issues with the screws they sent (as in snapping in half when we twisted them into the wood). But in the end, the pulls were such a cost saver, we buckled down and made it work. 
We drilled pilot holes for each screw.
And used a screw driver to put in the hardware. Using hand tools was a little more work, but resulted in less snapage of those wimpy screws. 20 drawer pulls later, we were all done.
And this beauty is what we ended up with. I have to admit, this project turned out even better than I had hoped! It really gives off that "Museum of Natural History" vibe I was going for, but at a serious fraction of the cost. Just to refresh your memory- this is what the chest of drawers looked like when I found it at the ReStore:
Definitely a diamond in the rough. Overall, it probably took me about a week to complete this project and my all-in budget broke down like this:

Chest of Drawers- $30

Grand Total= $68.00!!

Now that this job is done, it's time to move on to the next task at hand. A task that will require more painting and a good measure of ninja balance and strength. You guessed it- it's time to paint my ceilings. I just can't put it off any longer. It's going to be a bear of a job, but I think I may have a new trick up my sleeve. Something that will save both my sanity and my 48 year old neck muscles. Wish me luck- I'm pretty sure I'm gonna need it.


  1. GREAT!! GREAT!! GREAT!! Absolutely love this project.

    1. Thanks so much Ellen! I was so glad it turned out as good as I'd hoped. That hasn't always been the case with some of my other projects- lol!

  2. you always make me smile and inspire!!

    1. Coming from a craft master like you, sister, that means the world to me <3

  3. I really enjoyed reading this article, and found it quite informative. And especially the part about the popularity of the cabinet handles. Thanks for sharing! I generally prefer cabinet handles to cabinet handles and would recommend it to all.