Giving a 1942 Vanity Table a New Life

Molly AuBuchon
by Molly AuBuchon
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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  • Tammy Green Doty Tammy Green Doty on May 30, 2021

    I’ve got 2 old desk—1 with a mirror, 2 dressers—1 with a swivel mirror...all have claw feet except 1 desk. I want to refinish all of them and I know some were grandparents things and others were not but were from 30’s-40’s... I’m weary of doing anything because I’m afraid I will deface the value of them. How do you know (never been appraised) if something is an antique or if you shouldn’t do anything to them...I’m more afraid I’d ruin them...

    any help would be appreciated!

  • Ingrid Ingrid on Oct 16, 2021

    I have started this with a piece in like condition, veneer on bottom, peeling. Please tell me how to replace the beautiful beveled mirror I broke on it?

  • Turner Turner on Dec 30, 2022

    You did a beautiful job restoring this piece.

    I have my grandmother’s dresser & it’s basically the twin to this one. Thanks for the tips on refinishing it. You give me hope.

    The mirror on mine is intact, but discolored. There are dark aged places in/behind the mirror. Any hints on restoring the mirror? There’s a beautiful pattern etched into the edge of the glass so I’d really prefer not replacing it if at all possible.

    Thank you.

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  • Sharon Martinez Sharon Martinez on Oct 22, 2023

    I never thought about just removing all the veneer. I think it turned out amazing! I bought a cedar chest at a yard sale for $50 and have never decided what to do with it. It holds no sentimental value, so I guess the sky's the limit. Thank you

  • Kmj91908928 Kmj91908928 on Oct 23, 2023

    You did a great job! I love that you re-stained it instead of painting. It looks awesome.