If you’ve followed our blog for a while you know we have a pretty “can-do” attitude.
I would consider ourselves pretty adept DIY’ers and not a whole lot intimidates us.
What’s that you say? “That cute little dresser is intimidating? I would expect more out of you guys.”
ME TOO (my head is hung low). This stinker of a dresser was up there with one of my most difficult projects to date.
I came across this steel dresser years ago. It was darling as-is but quite feminine, and feminine isn’t in our vocabulary around here.
These steel dressers date back to approx the 1930’s and I’ve seen them sell for upwards of $1500.
My plan was to strip the paint down to the bare metal but little did I know that stripping paint off of metal is about as easy as splitting an atom.
I quickly named it the “bane of my existence dresser”.
I first attempted using a paint remover.
That worked semi-well but it left a lot behind. I applied it three times and it still couldn’t get everything off. Plus it made a gigantic chemical mess.
So then I tried belt-sanding the sucker.
That worked semi-well (as you can see a little glimmer of the bare metal shining through on top) but that took 1 whole hour just to get that to shine through. There was obviously some kind of industrial strength powder coating on it. I just couldn’t imagine how on earth I was going to get all the metal to shine through on all the little nooks & crannies. After spending 6 hours sanding the beast and getting hardly anywhere I was spitting nails. You can tell you’re at that point when you start throwing everything in sight…sander, tools, chords plus really un-lady like things start coming out of your mouth.
I threw in the towel. So the Mr. came strutting out with a look like, “how hard can it be?” 30 minutes in and he said, “call a professional.” I called everyone I could think of…metal sandblasters, auto body shops, powder coatings shops. In a nutshell, working with a dresser of this kind was tricky. People swore they could remove all the paint but their machines might dent and ruin the finish. In addition, the finish would be more chalky and cloudy instead of shiny. So I was back to square one.
I came across a steel tanker desk that had been refinished by a woman and it looked spectacular. I tracked her down and sent her a picture of my 2 dressers
(during this time I found another dresser and bought it in a moment of temporary insanity).
I also sent her inspiration pics of what I’d like it to look like and she said no problem, she could do them.
Enter Wonder Woman, aka Amy Collett.
According to Amy, each piece is different and working with steel is probably the most difficult in that it takes roughly 4-5 times the amount of work as a wood dresser. This second dresser took much more time because she said someone used some kind of electric tool to try and remove the paint which ended up gouging the steel (ehem, that was me but I wasn’t going to admit it to her…I mean, just look at her. The woman means business).
She ended up having to use this grinding tool to get much of the finish off but she said she wouldn’t recommend a novice use one of these on steel if they don’t know what they’re doing because they could cause more harm to the piece (ehem, me…again).
When I attempted refinishing these myself I just didn’t have any reference point for working with steel. Amy says she sands steel primarily by hand with fine sand paper so not to make deep scratches in the metal. If you would have told me I had to sand these dressers by hand to achieve the look I was going for I would have jumped off a cliff.
Ain’t no one got that kind of time.
But 20 years experience under her belt Amy knew what she was doing and worked miracles on these. After you’ve acheived the look you’re going for that last step is to seal it with a product like Varathane. The bare steel will oxidize quickly if you don’t and start rusting right away (which was another problem I ran in to).
No more chippy-paint-farmhouse-feminine dresser.
This one is the perfect addition to my son’s room.
Thanks to Amy this piece makes a statement.
The moral of this story is, if you’re not going to put in the time, dedication and patience in to your piece, it’s going to look like shiza.
And when you come to that realization you need to contact an “Amy.”
And trust me it takes a real woman (me) who’s comfortable in her own skin to be able to hand over two shoddy looking dressers and say, “please fix my epic fail.”
And since she’s now my new BFF I have to plug the heck outta her until she starts blushing.
The great news is, is you’re in Utah, Amy is for hire! In addition to the awesome pieces she refinishes and sells she also does custom work on almost any piece you have, any material.
Don’t risk ruining a piece with inexperience. She’ll finish any piece to your specification, finish or color you want.
Don’t want to go outside to finish a piece in the bitter cold? Call Amy.
Don’t have time to refinish Grandma’s heirloom table? Call Amy.
Sometimes you have to know when to hand it over to a real professional and I’m SO glad I did.
(Amy’s costs vary based on time, scope of project and piece of furniture. Starting point for refinishing a metal dresser like this is $600).
If you have a piece you’d like Amy to refinish or to see some pieces she has for sale visit her website at Distressed by Design.