Early 1800's Antique Dresser

4 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.)
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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 49 questions
  • 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.

  • 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)

    • Krafty Mrs.K
      Krafty Mrs.K
      on Feb 4, 2021

      If you are going darker, you might could just use Minwax polyshades that is poly with stain. I have used it over old wood finished cabinets.

      Really look at the Style of your pieces and consider if they will look good in a darker or lighter wood tone. Be cautious about the trendy greys and black that may seem dated later.

      Definitely try samples first. Good luck with a big refinish job.

  • Marsha Wallace
    Marsha Wallace
    on Feb 5, 2021

    Is there anyway possible to achieve a wood stained finish on furniture that has laminate finish? If I sand it too much to get rid of sheen I'll take fake wood look right off. Probably pressboard underneath.

    • Patricia
      on Feb 5, 2021

      You could try Retique It Liquid wood. Check out their website to see if it will work for your project. Good luck Marsha!

Join the conversation

4 of 644 comments
  • Carlos
    on Feb 9, 2021

    I agree with Ann and Karen, you did an excellent job. Would like to know about the string, what is the purpose?

    • Patricia
      on Feb 10, 2021

      Thanks Carlos. The string attached to the key is so it can be hung on a hook when not in use.

  • Anna
    on Mar 9, 2021

    Absolutely brilliant! It looks wonderful. I love that you choose not to paint it and cover that beautiful wood grain patina!!

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