Three cheers for Electric Sandpaper!


preparations for the chest restoration

Three cheers for electric sandpaper or how I restored this chest of drawers aka The Manrobe

So the wife spied this manrobe on Trade Me and I thought, hell yeah, that'll do me. The bed in the spare room doesn't need to have ALL my clothes on it any more.... and after I restored this desk last year, how hard could it be?

So what's up first, what's the trick to making these drawers worthy of being a home to my Transformers T Shirt collection?

The first tip is too look for any loose joins or cracks and glue them up. PVA was the glue of choice for wood working when I was at school so that's what I'll use know. You'll note at the left of the picture a clamp to hold everything in place as the wood dries. A handy hint is to use a soft rubber mallet to knock the joins back in together (if it's apt). I find it's best to leave any glued bits to dry for 24 hours to give the glue enough time to dry. Which I did. Kind of, when it suited.

I then removed the door of the manrobe and the top of it too which revealed a hidden space for money, drugs and knives....

The next step in restoring this set of drawers was the longest and tough part. Sanding off the stain. So three cheers for electric sand paper. Start the process with a very course grit sandpaper. I used 60 and it ripped the stain off in no time. When using the sander, be deliberate with your strokes, don't put too much downwards pressure on the sander and keep the strokes in the same direction, going with the grain. Did you hear me cowboy? Go with the grain!!!

Next up is cleaning off the sand dust. Get a hearth brush and wipe it off. You could even think about using a damp towel to get the last of it off.

Then you have to repeat the above with a more fine sandpaper grit. I used 150.

I then dragged the heavy fucker out of the man shed and washed it all off with the hose and gave the drawers a damn good clean while I was at it. You know, to get rid of the old man smell....

Then you have to repeat the above with a more fine sandpaper grit. I used 180.

manrobe restoration sanded chest

All that took me an age to do. But to paraphrase Jim Steinman, it rung out beautifully.

Now for the staining. This can be some tricky shit. What colour to you want? Dark or light? Do you want all the marks and everything to be covered up? Do you want all the different bits of wood to match? Do you want a variegated cacophony of wood to be on display? These punk, are the questions you gotta ask yourself. Well do ya punk, do you want the dark mahogany stain like I went for? Well do ya?

Remember that secret lid I talked about where your cocaine and knives can go? This manrobe had a nice, light stain on the inside - I had some Kauri stain left over from another project so I gave it a nice spruce up. You can see from the picture to the left that it came up a pretty sweet shade.

If it's one thing I have learnt while staining wooden furniture it's this and I believe it's bloody good advice:

Check your work! 

Check that you haven't put too much stain on. Gravity is a bitch and the stain can run down the side of your piece and make a right mess. Make sure you get the excess off with the brush - some brands of stain recommend using a cloth but I reckon that risks getting cotton or what not stuck in the finish.

After you've done the staining, give it half an hour and then check your work for runs, messes and misses.

In this particular case I did just that and caught a few drips here and there. I used a sharp cardboard knife cutter to scrape or cut the stain drips or 'clumps' off. I carefully then re-stained those areas. It's a pain in the ass but totally worth it.

Indeed, I was pretty risk adverse about the stain running so the door of the manrobe was placed on the work bench, all nice an flat so there was no chance of it getting messed up:


Once the first coat had dried for 24 hours, it was time for a second coat of dark mahogany stain. When that was all done, I was on the home stretch of this restoration project. I put the door on, and the flip up top, put the drawers all back in and I was done. Mission accomplished with a restored manrobe to be proud of:

restored manrobe dresser with stain

manrobe dresser restoration stain

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