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.

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Have a question about this project?

3 of 27 questions
  • Sheri Johnson
    Sheri Johnson
    on Mar 1, 2020

    All I can say, is WOW! Getting ready to start on a complete waterfall bedroom suit I just purchased. I don't know if I want to try to repair the veneer, strip it off and replace it, or do what you have done. I just don't know if my underlying plywood will have a grain that I will be happy with. Did you use stripper on the moldings or did you just sand them?

    • Molly AuBuchon
      Molly AuBuchon
      on Mar 2, 2020

      I just sanded. It was quite a chore, but worked well. Plus it was free therapy, lol.

  • Sandi
    on Aug 16, 2020

    I have this vanity that has 4 drawers then 2 small extra smaller drawers dove with red & black stripes looks like the same as you have shown and a seat. Can you tell me if you are fa-miller

    • Molly AuBuchon
      Molly AuBuchon
      on Aug 17, 2020

      I’m sorry, Sandi, I don’t think I’m familiar. Are you trying to refinish it?

  • Sue
    on Oct 21, 2020

    I am TOTALLY FLOORED! This disaster has become one gorgeous showpiece! I wouldn't have the patience for all the sanding I am afraid because I am one of those that wants instant gratification! Haha. So I can truly appreciate the work and devotion you had for this and someone is smiling down at you after restoring this for future generations. I am so jealous! By the way, Galax, Va. is in the SW section not too far from Roanoke. Small town so in 1942 it must have been a one-light town! So they had a furniture company or manufacturing company there then. How special is that?

Join the conversation

2 of 1300 comments
  • Dedra
    on Sep 12, 2020

    It is beautiful. I have one also. Mine was in good shape. I left it just like it was. Love mine. You done such a good job on yours.

  • Sandra
    on Oct 31, 2020

    I am working on trying to refinish a late 1800s vanity for my boyfriend.I can appreciate all the hard work that you put into this. Your vanity is gorgeous. Now I want to find another one and strip the veneer. He wanted the veneer left in tact

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