Character, character, character… you probably know how much I love good wood character in furniture by now. A few years back I painted almost every furniture piece that I brought home. Now, it’s so hard for me to touch any wood with paint. Would I still paint a piece of furniture? Yes, but rarely, compared to how much I used to paint furniture.
I’ve had this milk painted dresser for years. I was the one that initially painted it. Although I loved the milk paint, I was dying to strip it down to bare wood.
I tried out a new green product, Green EZ Strip and Clean, to see if it would work to strip the paint. It worked wonders! I’m not sure how it would work on other paints, but it worked great on this milk painted dresser! I was very impressed! I’ve seen others use it in place of oven cleaner to strip wood as well and it has worked great for them. Just like oven cleaner, I’m sure there are times where it doesn’t work as good, but this was not that time.
I sprayed it on, let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes, and then scrubbed the paint off. It took a little bit of scrubbing but it all came off.
I rinsed it off with water from my hose. I do not use a pressure washer on these kinds of projects. I do have an attachment on the end of my hose but it does not give out any extra pressure. I let it dry out and then repeated the process to get the bits of paint that were a little more stubborn.
After it was completely dry, I brought it inside to see what the color would look like in indoor lighting. I knew it was veneer and I was trying to figure out if I wanted to keep the veneer and try to save it, or take it off.
The veneer was chipping in various places. I ended up feeling that the veneer was chipping too much and I decided to remove all of it. It’s tough to tell in the photo below how much the veneer was chipping, but it was on one edge of the drawer, an edge across the top, and a couple of edges on the sides.
I used my iron to remove the veneer. I let a wet towels sit on the drawers overnight and the veneer came off so much better after doing that. I have more about the process of removing veneer, in this post.
After removing veneer, the wood surface is rough and sometimes there is a little bit of glue or tiny little wood splintery pieces that need to be smoothed out and sanded. I used my hand sander with 150 grit sandpaper and lightly sanded over the drawers, the top, and sides of the dresser where I had removed the veneer.
Before I had removed the veneer I had used would bleach on the entire dresser (to see if I liked the veneer like that) and it lightened the veneer as well as the parts that weren’t veneer. I forgot to take pics of that step.
When I took the veneer off, I wanted to lighten a couple of spots that had greenish tones in the wood. I mixed a little bit of barkeepers friend and water and let it sit on the dresser for about 30 minutes. I don’t really have a ratio, I just mix a bit of those two things and wipe it onto the dresser.
I always love scrubbing the hardware with barkeepers friend to see what is under the years of tarnished hardware. It turned out beautiful! A bit of the tarnished areas remained on the hardware, which I love because it makes it look old, with a bit of gold showing through.
I used a scrubber and scrubbed until I started seeing gold show through the tarnished areas.
One more look at the before…
I know there will be some that love it better painted, In this case, I am not one of those. I love the raw wood character and all of the worm holes showing through! I have yet to add the decorative piece back on. It fell apart a little in the process of removing the veneer. I am putting it back together and I will attempt to put it back on, if I like the way it looks. I do love how it looks without it as well!
I have not sealed it yet. I’m actually kind of scared to touch it with any kind of sealer because I love the character and color so much! I may try to add a white wash and then add sealer over that to keep the lighter color. But, I don’t want the color to change at all, so I might just leave this one as is, without sealer, for now until I decide where it’s going to go in the house that we build.
When I found the old worm holes underneath all of that veneer, I was so excited! My daughter said “gross, worms”. Maybe someday she’ll like worm holes, ha ha.
The top is beautiful as well! I love all of the original wood character!
And, I love how the shined up hardware gives the dresser a little bit of bling!
I’m in love with this dresser and I’m so glad I stripped it!
And, thank you to the worms for doing their job so long ago! What do you think? Are you on the “like it better painted“ side or “glad you stripped it“ side? You all know what side I’m on.