Saturday, February 8, 2020

A Dresser Makeover on a Whole New Level: How to use Table Legs to Transform an Old Dresser

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I love making over old dressers. It's one of my favorite furniture flips. I just can't resist when I find an old, well made dresser for free, or extremely cheap. It's like they scream out to me: "Make me pretty again! I won't let you down like those new fangled dressers that can't even call themselves wood! Look, I even have dovetailed drawers!" 
I'm such a sucker for dovetailed drawers.
When it comes to dressers I know I could definitely use a few more with my growing family and multiple bedrooms. I mean everyone needs at least one in their bedroom, right?? Luckily I usually have two or three sitting in the garage along with some other furniture friends, waiting patiently for their day of transformation. Hence the reason my car sits outside all winter long...
Well, now that you all know about my dresser obsession I can move on. 
A little back story on this dresser: About 3 1/2 years ago one of my coworkers had a yard sale where she sold a bunch of her recently deceased brothers belongings. Fortunately for me this cute squatty antique dresser did not sell and she offered it to me for $20. The poor guy had seen better days, the top was bubbled and peeling and there were drip marks all down the front drawers (hence the $20 price tag).
My co workers picture of the dresser that sold me
I'm not one to shy away from refurbishing a piece of furniture that has good bones (and dovetailed drawers!) plus I needed another dresser for my son Jackson's new woodland forest themed room. I was pregnant with our second baby and I was going to put her in Jackson's current room since it was still set up like a nursery. Jackson was then going to get a totally new "big boy" room (which I had absolutely no furniture for). The low price of $20, necessity and my love for DIY furniture flips made it an easy choice to buy this dresser even if it wasn't exactly what I wanted.

We loaded the dresser in my SUV on my break at work and then brought him inside to work on in my dining room right next to my son's train set (because where else would you work on furniture?). Here's a couple before pictures of the damaged dresser.

I had a vision for this dresser that included painting part of it white while leaving the drawers stained, natural wood. I was really feeling the combination of some natural wood and some painted wood for Jackson's woodland forest themed room. I also wanted to raise it up because it was just too short and chunky looking for my taste.
The top veneer was totally shot and needed to be removed. I had never done this before but I figured how hard could it be? 

So first things first I set out to remove the veneer. I used an extra large putty/drywall knife and gently slid it underneath the veneer being careful not to scratch the wood underneath. To be honest it was pretty fun, almost therapeutic, especially when a big piece would peel off all at once. 

There came a point where I could no longer remove the veneer without damaging the wood underneath. Cory suggested I put a damp towel over the veneer and then steam the glue loose with an iron on low setting. 

The iron and damp towel method worked like a charm! Now that all the veneer was completely removed I needed to stain or paint it. I decided to paint the top white since it would be easier than sanding and staining and I was in a time crunch being 8 months pregnant and in full on nesting stage of my pregnancy.

For the next step in my dresser makeover I went on a search for legs to boost this stumpy guy up and give him a whole new look. I found the perfect little legs, waddell ash end table legs to be exact, at Lowe's and they were only $1.98 each!

I wanted to paint the legs white to match the body of the dresser and to make them look like they had always been there. I scoured my house for something to set them on to easily paint them and found a piece of styrofoam in a box of packing materials that would work perfect! 

Next I had to put the painted legs on the dresser. Cory flipped the dresser over and removed the metal caps that were in each corner. Don't mind the 50 year old dust that I conveniently cleaned up after the pictures were taken because Cory had "other things to do" and "didn't want to wait" (typical man haha).

Oddly enough there were only 3 metal caps supporting the dresser. Cory drilled holes in each of the corners for the table legs to screw in. He drilled the holes slightly smaller than the screws so that they would screw in tight.

I decided to use gorilla glue for wood to give the legs extra support. Gorilla glue for wood requires water to work so I rolled up a paper towel and got it wet and put it in the holes in the dresser as well as the holes in the legs before squirting the glue into the holes. I then used a pair of needle nose pliers to screw the screw into the dresser and then lastly I screwed the leg in until it was tight.

For the last part of my dresser update, I needed to fix the drip stained, worn out looking drawers. I didn't really want to sand and restain them so I decided to try to "revive them". We had some tung oil in the basement which claimed to restore richness and vitality to wood so I decided to try that.

First I cleaned off the wood with rubbing alcohol to remove any paint marks and grime. Then I rubbed on a generous amount of tung oil with an old holey sock (which make great rags by the way). I waited 10 minutes then buffed the tung oil off with another sock. I repeated this process 24 hours later. 

I reapplied the tung oil a total of 3 times and lo and behold not only had the drip marks disappeared but the old wood had sucked in the tung oil like a parched man stranded in the desert and revealed a beautiful rich looking, shiny finish. I was pretty amazed. I'll take miracle reviving oil over sanding and restaining any day. I highly recommend trying tung oil to try and restore old wood to its original glory. 

Here's a before and after to show just how much the tung oil revived the wood.

I finished the dresser about a month before I had my daughter (so just in time haha). Writing this post more than 3 years later is bringing back all the memories. 
Like I said I was in full on nesting stage of my pregnancy and couldn't wait for Cory to get home from work to bring it upstairs. I don't condone this, but I pushed that bad boy up the stairs by myself since it was flipped over and it pretty much glided up the carpet stairs along with little 4 year old Jackson cheering me on from the top of the stairs. I've since heard from other moms that nothing will stop a pregnant woman with the overwhelming desire to get her home ready for her new baby.

I absolutely love how Jackson's antique dresser turned out. The new legs give it a whimsical, but yet still masculine look. It's not perfect but it is probably 100 years old so I wouldn't expect it to be. Plus I love the character that it brings to my son's woodland forest bedroom.

Not bad at all for less than $30 (or $40 if you count the paint and tung oil that I already had)! I could not be happier that my friend from work gave me the opportunity to buy this old guy. Hopefully I did her brother proud by bringing new life to his dresser. 

I've decided to start adding my sources to my posts since I get so many questions about wall color and where I find certain items.

Antique Dresser Post Sources

  • Dresser Legs (Waddell Ash End Table Legs) - Lowe's
  • Wall Color - Fresh Day, Behr Satin Paint
  • Trim, Door and Dresser Color - Dutch Boy 5 gallon White Paint
  • Animals of the Woodlands sign - Hobby Lobby
  • Seek Adventure Sign - Target clearance 
  • Singing, Dancing Fishing Bear - gift from years ago


  1. Great renovation. Love the crisp white with the gorgeous luster of the wood. I have a display cabinet in need off the the tung oil.

  2. I love how this turned out. The legs look like they were always there. I wonder what the top would have looked like if you used the tung oil on it after taking off the veneer instead of painting.

    1. Now I'm intrigued and want to try tung oil out on bare wood. I'm definitely putting that on my to-do list!

  3. Amazing transformation! And thanks for the info on Tung oil.


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