I Did a Thing

This August I will be moving into my first apartment, so I’ve been working diligently this summer to raise the necessary funds to furnish said apartment. This has led to some personal concern over budgets for feeding myself and paying rent… but those are problems for future Mark to deal with. I have a more pressing matter, for which I’ve been scouring the ends of the internet (the depths of Craiglist) to find an answer too.

It was through the blessings of Clarksville’s annual picnic and yard sale that I was bestowed with multiple furniture pieces. I got an awesome desk and cubby combo, as well as a banging coffee table that is just begging for me to put my copy of “The Alphabet of Manliness” upon it. However, my proudest purchase was an $18 dresser that looked suicidal.

This hipster picture makes it look a heck of a lot better than it is.

The varnish was peeling all over the place and on the bottom-most drawer, someone had scratched in the name “Austin.” When we loaded it into my car, one of the legs broke off. I knew that I could give it a makeover worthy of She’s All That. But the real question was, could I be this dresser’s Freddie Prinze Jr?

The first step was picking a stain. I planned on matching the color to a bed frame I obtained that has a rich, somewhat rosy appearance. I work at a hardware store that has a fair amount of down time, so I was afforded the opportunity to smother paint paddles with potential stains. I settled on a Minwax brand “Gunstock” oil-based stain, which I’m told by my store’s paint representative is “popular among old people.”

It’s like crack for old people.

The bed frame was in fact owned by an old person, so I guess my paint rep is an expert on these sorts of matters. Along with the stain, I purchased 60 and 120 grit sandpaper, a sanding block, and dust masks.

Things were going to get dirty.

My dad owns a palm sander from way back in the day that vastly sped up the process of stripping the peeling varnish. Sanding took about four hours on one of the hottest days the area had seen yet. Sweat was pouring and the wood dust clung to me like it too was trying to cool off.


Needless to say, I showered before continuing with the stain. Watching that varnish come off and seeing the sexy, naked wood underneath was kind of a game changer.

It was like when Rachel Leigh Cook took off her glasses and let her hair down. Whoooooaaaa, baby.

Before I could stain the drawers, many of them needed repairs for broken off channels. With the help of wood glue and some clamps, the channels were reset and slid perfectly into the dresser.

This is what being a man is.

The staining process went awesomely as well. The stain got brushed on with a plain, bristle brush, and then rubbed in with a lint-free cloth to make sure that the stain wouldn’t puddle. By the end of the day I truly felt one with the dresser, having performed tsaheylu.

I named this picture “Stained Drawers,” and I laughed while I did so.

After staining came the application of a high-gloss urethane finish coat.  Again, I was matching the bed frame that is very glossy and which I expected had at least three coats. I applied the coats with cheap foam brushes, being careful to not let the finish run, which would create solidified “drips” on the sides of the dresser. The morning I applied the finish coat, the mass emergence of Junebugs took place and I felt like I was in the midst of a biblical plague. Junebugs were smacking the furniture and myself and I was concerned that if one landed on the finish, it would get stuck when it hardened.

I know there is no reference for a sense of scale, but trust me that this Junebug is the size of a bowling ball.

The image from Jurassic Park when they extract the dinosaur DNA from the mosquito in amber was vividly stuck in my imagination. Every morning when I get dressed, I could stare at it frozen in state and contemplate the nature of existence.

Once everything had been fixed up, I had to go about repairing the legs. I got my brother to weld the plates where the legs thread in, in an attempt to fix them.

We just made it worse.

However, between all four legs being completely different sizes and the plates welded off balance, there was no hope for the dresser to stand on its own.

You get a sense of it from the picture, but each leg is crazily different size wise. Not only thickness but length.

If I wanted to, I could have popularized the world’s first “rocking dresser,” but I decided to be more traditional and not make a piece of shit. I picked up four identical legs and some replacement plates from the store and attached them.

I finished the job and rolled the dresser back unto its legs. The final task was to place the handles back on. They’re an awesome black color that is starting to chip, revealing some silver and brass tones underneath. They look fantastic with the rosy-cherry color of the drawers, and I was glad that I wouldn’t have to replace them. A single handle can retail for about $4.00, so I was in for a major savings.

Finished product.

With the finished dresser before me, I looked on in admiration. Like when Freddie first looked at the transformation Rachel Leigh Cook had undergone, he thinks to himself, damn, she looks fine! And as the movie goes on, he forgets that she was once awkward and unappealing; by the end, he is willing to commit himself to this girl wholeheartedly. This dresser is my Rachel Leigh Cook and I can proudly say that it will always have a very welcome spot in my bedroom… ‘til death do us part.

Before and after.

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