Giving a 1942 Vanity Table a New Life

I found this vanity on a local barter and trade site for $50. I've been looking for a vanity for a long time and bought this one to make into something I'd love and use.
The veneer had damages, but the vanity was in tack. I knew I'd first remove the veneer.
Removing the veneer.
I tried using heat to release the veneer, but found the most productive way to get it off was picking and peeling using straight edge razor and various putty knives. Not the most fun part for sure. Some peeled in strips, some areas I had to pick tiny pieces at a time. I'm sure someone has a better method, but this worked for me.
Most veneer off.
Getting down to the bare bones.
After removing all veneer, I sanded. Getting down in all the cracks and crevasses took patience. I sanded it even more after this to get the wood as fresh looking as possible. My best advise here is sand, sand, and sand some more. When you think you sanded enough, go sand it more.
I carefully stained the piece. I used a grain defining stain. Because of the variation of types of wood it gave a variation in color I was happy with. I did all the same steps with the topper that holds the mirror.
Found this stamped on the mirrors!
The stamp says "Galax Va.", can't read the middle, and 1942. Which I'm assuming dates the piece to 1942.
I used 4 coats of premium satin finish polyurethane. And used a little Brasso to clean the handles.
I'm so delighted with the outcome! Over 100 hours of blood, sweat, and tears.
Before and after side by side.

Have a question about this project?

3 of 23 questions
  • Sandra Lewis
    on Feb 27, 2019

    I have a similar piece. The veneer on my piece is in good shape and the drawer fronts actually have a design in the veneer. If I sand the veneer, do you think I could preserve the design when I stain it?

  • Sandra Lewis
    on Feb 27, 2019

    I put casters (wheels) on my vanity so it would raise it up some. Anybody who has one of these knows it is virtually impossible to get your knees under it when you sit down. We’re women shorter then?

  • Brian
    on May 19, 2019

    Absolutely amazing! Well done, and kudos on not painting it. You said you used a stain that brought out the grain. What brand and color of stain DID you use?

    • Nancy
      on Oct 16, 2019

      I have a very similar piece on which the veneer is damaged. Can you confirm that you removed the veneer and did not replace it. Did you remove all veneer or kept the parts not damaged and just sanded? Thanks!

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2 of 1281 comments
  • Kimmy
    on Nov 15, 2019

    Wow, I have a whole bedroom set from late 1800's, now rethinking. Veneer just chipped in two small spaces at the bottom of one of the dressers, but I think I would have to get mine Professionally done. To much work for me! You did an amazingly awesome job on this vanity!

  • Coolie Josephs
    7 days ago

    i'm so inspired i have 2 vintage pieces from my grandmother and recently was looking at ideas to help me restore them, but was only seeing them being painted. This is so amazing. Think i'll tackle 1 this weekend

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