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 28 questions
  • 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?

    • Betty
      on Jan 22, 2021

      Great job on the vanity! I also enjoyed Eulas comments on Galax VA. My husband also grew up in Galax and still has a some family in the area. We also bought a vacation home on the NewRiver in Fries VA. A few years ago I inherited a beautiful vintage bedroom suite (from my parents) very similar to Molly’s vanity. While cleaning it I found the original tag on the back which showed it was made by Webb Furniture, Galax VA. I cleaned it up & using it in our guest room in NC. 😊

  • Ashlei Clay
    Ashlei Clay
    on Jan 19, 2021

    I am currently restoring a vanity similar to yours. It was gifted to me by my mother in law. It was her mother's. Its from. The 1940's also.

    The wood is in great shape except for one crack across the top of one of the sides. The only option to repair it that I've seen is stainable wood filler. Do you have a recommendation? I think it's narrow enough to not show too bad once filled, sanded, and stained.

    I'm moving it out to the garage tomorrow to start sanding.

    • Diane Schule
      Diane Schule
      on Feb 24, 2021

      I really like this two-toned, as it looks now! Looks like a Louis Vuiton trunk! Sort of. But I do like it.

Join the conversation

2 of 1312 comments
  • Sylvia Laura Ranyak
    Sylvia Laura Ranyak
    on Mar 2, 2021

    I love to see you when antique furniture is reborn again thank you for sharing your ideas with us can’t wait to try your technique on my next antique finding.

  • Jessica
    on Mar 14, 2021

    Absolutely gorgeous! You did a wonderful job! I'm about 1/3 of the way through redoing a vanity myself....found it for free on the curb, about 15 yrs ago. I've been working on it for 2 years now, so I can relate when I comes to the blood, sweat, and tears! It warms my heart to see people still have the same appreciation of timeless pieces of art as I.

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