The Water-Logged China Cabinet

9 Materials
5 Days

Here's the back story on this piece... The storage unit we rented was in an old factory and they were cleaning-out. When we arrived with the movers (same company) I spotted the china cabinet that had been left out in the rain for a loooong time. It was warped, split, peeling, and had no glass. Since I'm an id!@t...ahem, love a challenge, I offered to buy it. The owner told me to take it - no charge.

The original plan was to reglue the veneer and try to add stain to blend in what was missing.  That plan was tossed aside as soon as I realized the extent of the water damage.  Take a closer look:
The more sanding I did, the more veneer came off. It was so sad...  Time for a new plan...get rid of the veneer.  
I started with the drawer and veneer was flying EVERYWHERE!  Once it was down to bare wood (which didn't take very long) I saw the lovely green hue...hello, poplar!  The drawer would be painted.  
I continued with the two panels on either side of the door.  Once again, the veneer was flying and then I discovered another issue.  There was a layer of veneer under the veneer that also was loose. You can't see it in the picture, but, trust me, it was lifting right off.  
I consulted with my assistant (aka my husband), who agreed with me,  it all had to come off.  There was just no way to re-glue all that veneer successfully.  Off it came! Let's just say, there was a lot of ruined veneer:
After sanding everything smooth, I got to work on the solid-wood parts:  the door frame, the corners, those legs...I used Furniture Refinisher Tung Oil from Homer Formby with no expectations.  This wood had very little finish left on it, but I was pleasantly surprised with the results.
Before & After
The top and sides got 2 coats of black chalk paint to cover the damage (the top was warped & split and had to be screwed back together)and a coat of polycrylic.  I also painted the inside and the drawer.  Everything got a little distressing with sandpaper.  A new piece of glass was cut for the door and then it was time to tackle those front side panels.  Since the green poplar was shining through, I gave them 2 coats of white paint and bought some fabric. I cut the fabric a little larger than the panels and used Mod Podge to apply it.
Once the entire piece of fabric was secure and dry, I trimmed it with an exacto knife and applied one more coat over the top.
Last, but not least, I had to clean the knob and drawer pulls. A little metal polish and some elbow grease turned them into this:

This china cabinet was a lost cause that I just couldn't give up on. If you'd like to see more before and after pictures, stop by my blog. Here's the final picture:

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