refinishing is harder than calculus

24 Aug

I tried to paint the drawers with oil paint.

I can’t believe I didn’t take pictures of this process, because I felt as though I were witnessing proof that God did not want me to have black shiny drawers.

First, I got fibers from the roller.  I bought the best one at Home Depot and I have never, ever had this problem before.  I was able to sand them out with 120 grit sandpaper.  The Internet says apparently you can de-fiber your roller by wrapping it with tape.  I still think it can’t be 100% effective, so if it’s a problem at all, I should try another method.

On the second coat, I got DUST.  That’s right, dust.  How do you control dust?

I mean this rhetorically.  Thanks again to the Internet, I know now there are ways to maybe control it — sand on a different day and in a different place than you paint, add or take away ventilation, pick a quick-drying finish — but honestly, if we are trying to control DUST (like roller fibers) I am out of my fucking league and have lost before I began.

My last ditch effort was to use nails in the bottoms of the drawer fronts, so they wouldn’t be drying horizontally and thus exposed to dust.  Not only did this fail to prevent dust, I got tiny runs.

I hadn’t been talking about it much because I was too frustrated.  The boy found me was staring at them like one might eye their mortal foe.  “They’re really starting to look good?”

This was too much for me to take and the whole tale came tumbling out.  He nodded like a reasonable person.  “Sounds like it’s not going to work.  You could always silver leaf them…”

I was really considering it.  I’d spent a lot of money and I’d learned a lot about paint and finishes, but I still didn’t have drawers I liked and I was beginning to realize I’d picked the absolute hardest finish to achieve — and I might not be able to do it.  I had extra drawers, though, and if I was going to silver leaf them I could ruin them to my heart’s content.  So I decided to try one last thing: stripping the finish and staining them, then finishing with a wipe-on polyurethane, the fastest-drying of all the polyurethanes.  I even picked a less demanding semi-gloss finish to try to save myself a little heartache.

The dresser was finished in shellac, which dissolves in alcohol.  I tested it with rubbing alcohol, then went out and bought myself proper alcohol at the hardware store.  Removing it was messy but amazingly easy.  I ended up stickier than sticky and kind of fuzzy off denatured alcohol fumes (open a window! seriously!) but the whole disaster remained blessedly within the dropcloth.

I sanded the drawers smooth and then stained the drawers several times with India ink.  I bought a big bottle for $9ish at an art supply store.  From what I understand, India ink is shellac based, so it’s safe to let it dry on the wood.  This didn’t disguise the grain, but gave a beautiful rich result and for the first time in this whole process, I dared to feel real hope.

I can’t say enough good things about Minwax wipe-on poly.  It smells terrible like all oil-based things do, and you’ll need to do a billion coats, at least 5 before it starts to build and get any real depth, but the thinness of the coats is what gives it that quick-drying dust resistance and SAVES YOUR FUCKING LIFE.

Finished picture to come.

Money spent: tons, but the furniture was free and undeniably one-of-a-kind and priceless and I learned so much and amused myself (at least I will call it that to keep from crying) for hours and hours. So if you break it down by hourly cost it was pretty cheap.  Right?  RIGHT?

I still haven’t done the nightstand/side table to match.  I’ve been to Home Depot a billion times at this point and never pulled the trigger on buying pipe legs so I think there is subconscious resistance going on.  I WONDER WHY.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: