MCM Drastic to Fantastic-A Dresser Tale

1 Material
7 Days

So anytime I find a dresser for $20 I feel beholden to shove it in the back of the truck. This MCM guy had great bones but horrible yellow beat up paint. So you look beyond the ugly and try to see what can happen.

This guy stayed in my garage for 8 months before I decided to tackle him. The first step was to clean this beast to see how deep the scars and scratches were. Using soapy water on the outside and Windex on the inside it was clean but still butt ugly.

The next step was to get out the orbital sander and take the bumps and scars out. When dealing with a piece that is 95% veneer you have to be careful you don’t sand too deep. What I found was veneer missing on parts of the drawers. That issue caused me to rethink just using a poly coating over the wood.

My first thought was to use a dark coastal blue just on the drawers. The more I thought about it the less I liked the idea. So I got out a pine board and tried out several colors to see how they would look. They all looked good, so I used them all. I painted three coats of paint on the drawers and put polyurethane on the sides and top. The brass pulls were very unique. To clean them I boiled them in 2 parts water, one part white vinegar and a tablespoon of salt and cleaned them with steel wool. What I thought were brass knobs were not. They were a dark aluminum which is typical for the 1950’s. They looked even better than the painted brass.

The pine wood strips on the drawers, dresser and feet I decided to just poly to give contrast.

So I now think this MCM dresser is my favorite. It challenged me on many levels but I am glad I rescued it from Drastic to Fantastic.

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Have a question about this project?

2 questions
  • Denise
    on Apr 21, 2020

    I don't know if my other message went so please forgive the duplicate if there is one. I'm currently working on a similar project and I would like to know how you finished the top. Things like what grade sandpaper, if you had to do any extra work to make it look so good and finally the finish you used?

    • Trudy
      on Apr 21, 2020

      You must have stained the word parts before applying the polyurethane.

  • Stephen B.
    Stephen B.
    on Apr 21, 2020

    I have a dresser that has bumps in the composite under the wood veneer, this is on the top of the dresser. Unfortunately I sanded through the veneer into the composite wood. I have a spot about the size of an egg revealing the composite. I covered this with wood-filler. Is there a way to fix this so I can stain the the top without showing a patch of wood-filler?

    • Robyn Garner
      Robyn Garner
      on May 2, 2020

      If you can find a part of the piece that doesn't show but does have the veneer you can sand and keep the flakes. Mix those flakes with wood glue and use it as the "filler". That way you can stain the top and the egg section should stain just like the rest of the veneer.

Join the conversation

4 of 44 comments
  • Flipturn
    on May 5, 2020

    MCM is 1900 in Roman Numerals.

    The vintage of this dresser looks mid-century to me, which would be 1950, or MCML in Roman Numerals.

  • Milan
    on May 19, 2020

    What are the names of the colors you used? Loos great!

    • Gary Hardman
      Gary Hardman
      on May 19, 2020

      Thanks Milan. The colors are Benjamin Moore -Pearly Cotton,

      Magnolia Home-Rainy Days,

      Clark And Remington-Midnight Stroll. I got them at Ace Hardware in the miss tint bin. Great bargain at $5 a quart and $10 a gallon.

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