Early 1800's Antique Dresser

3 Materials
1 Hour

I bought this dresser at an online auction. Based on the condition of the veneer that I saw in the photos, I thought it would be a perfect candidate for painting. But it turns out it was about 100 years older than I initially thought. Based on the materials, hardware, and handcrafted construction I estimate the dresser was made in the early 1800’s.
The majority of the wood veneer was in good condition considering its age.
The main area of concern was unsightly loose and missing pieces of veneer that surrounds the drawers. Antique veneer is much thicker than modern day veneer and was difficult for me to source.
So I removed the remaining veneer around the drawers and replaced it with iron on veneer banding (link to actual product I used). I know, I know, I know . . . it's not authentic, but my goal was to get it ready to sell for everyday use (if a true restoration is desired an expert restorer can easily remove the new veneer and replace it with something more authentic).
I positioned the veneer banding in place. The veneer is easy to trim to fit with scissors or a utility blade.
Next I applied the banding using a hot iron wrapped in foil. I used the foil to protect the iron's surface from potentially getting adhesive on it or getting scratched.
Afterwards I stained the new veneer. There's a lot of color variation in the original veneer, so I tried to match my stain to the darker variant. I used 3 different stain colors that I had on hand.
The drawers required some minor repairs and cleaning which I explain more on my blog, so stop on by if you have a few minutes! (Link at bottom of this post.)

Suggested materials:

  • Band It Veneer Edging
  • Various stains
  • Iron and foil

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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

3 of 48 questions
  • ShelbyNeen
    on Jan 2, 2019

    Absolutely beautiful piece of furniture.

    I like the darker color you used on the veneer. It gives it a 'pop'

    Have you sold it yet?

    • Wanda Burt
      Wanda Burt
      on Oct 5, 2019

      I wouldn't think something over 150 years would be beautiful.That was a real antique.. Beautiful piece.

  • MaryAnn
    on Jan 19, 2020

    Could you determine the purpose of the string in the lock? Just curious as I can't come up with a reason myself. I really appreciate your not destroying this piece with paint. It looks wonderful as is.

    • Patricia
      on Jan 19, 2020

      The string was already there when I bought it, but I think it is there so it can be hung somewhere when not in use. Also probably so it won't get lost. I have other furniture pieces that I put decorative tassels on the keys so they won't get lost too easily.

  • KatKHoll
    on Jul 8, 2020

    Beautiful piece. So glad U didnt choose painted.... Painting can most definitely have its place...but i love ur choice...

    Which brings me to wanting to ask u, WAT THE best way to upDATE, MANY, WELL CARED FOR/ IN PERFECT CONDITION, formal dining room tabe, w leaves, china hutch and cabinet, sever 'side tables, aka, desert tables at our house, lol......

    My idea is to mid/light sand all pieces, apply a smidge darker stain than original, (yes, including chairs & leaves, )15 pieces, THEN, around edges, trim (stacked?), legs, feet, POSSIBLY) both solid sides of buffet & hutch...

    Apply a MUCH DARKER, (the closet i can find between grey and black)

    Do u think this even sounds 1. Doable 2. Attractive 3. Hopefully not sooo obvs their not an automatically Early American Maple set?, (that hopefully blends a bit better w the newer furniture in my home.

    Thx for any imput


    The ideas i have for the glass topped, wicker bottom matching coofe and end tables..... (applying epoxy over pictures of game boards)

    • Patricia
      on Jul 8, 2020

      Wow that's a big project you have on your hands! Depending on the type of wood and finish, you might need to strip the original stain off completely before refinishing. Otherwise you might get away with light sanding before applying a darker stain (I've done this using a gel stain). I have two suggestions for you. First, post some photos with your question to Hometalk (click on "ask question" at top of screen). This will get your question out to a number of fellow DIYer's. Second, whichever method you decide on, test it out on an inconspicuous spot or a small piece first to make sure you're happy with the results. Once you're confident with your plan be sure to take before and after photos! Good luck!

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