Monday, May 7, 2012

The "not so real" Wood Cabinet

 Before & After

When I came across this cabinet on a local online sale site, I wasn't too sure what to think of it.  It was in rough shape and I was quite sure it was a laminate piece, but listed at only $10, I thought I could afford to take a chance on it.  I emailed the owner and was told numerous times it was in fact solid wood. 

These are the pictures that I "borrowed" from the online ad.

Hum...looking at the picture and the detail of the "wood grain", I still suspected it WAS laminate, but, hoping I was wrong, I went to see it.  A closer look confirmed my suspicions.  It was definitely laminate.  I'd never painted laminate before, but I'd read up on it and it seemed to work, so I thought I'd give it a try.

The current paint job on it was bad.  I could tell that no primer had been used on it.  Not good.  Laminate tends to be a very shiny finish and so without a primer, the paint was literally peeling off.   

I thought it would be easy to sand off the old paint, add a layer of primer, and I'd be set to paint.  Perfect - a project I'd have finished in no time!  I started sanding...and sanding...and kept sanding.  After an hour of getting nowhere, I decided to attempt another route.  I grabbed a razor blade and thought I'd try peeling the paint off.  It worked, but it was slow and far from enjoyable.  My hands and arms were cramping up from holding the blade.  After hours of scrapping, I finally decided to sand off the small pieces of paint remaining and told myself it was good enough!

Originally I believe the shelves in the right swing out door were for dvds and cds.  The top shelf was too high for dvds and would have been wasted space as I planned to only store my kids dvds in it.  I took the door apart, removed the top shelf and then moved the 2nd shelf up.  It was a bit of work, but worth it knowing I'd be able to use all the shelves now. 

I rolled on two coat of my favorite primer and then sprayed on a few coats of white satin paint.  I finished it off with a couple coats of Minwax Polyacrylic to protect it.

One thing I knew I wanted to try on this cabinet was the use of chicken wire.  I've seen it added to a lot of furniture lately and love the look.  At first I thought it would be easy to remove the existing glass.  Unfortunately, I guess the door was built around the glass instead of the glass added afterwards.  Unless I physically took the door apart (knowing that it could very well end up being completely destroyed in the process), I had to come up with another way to "remove" the glass.  I laid it down on a few sheets of newspaper and put a few more sheets on top of it.  I grabbed my hammer wouldn't break!  WHAT???  I was hitting glass with a metal hammer and it wasn't breaking???  So, what did I do next?  I took a large framing nail, put on a pair of thick leather work gloves, and attempted to hammer the nail into the glass.  Well, it worked that time! It completely shattered into a million pieces.  I'd forgotten that's what safety glass does.  Because I had it lying on the newspaper, it was quick and easy to clean up.

I used my nail/staple gun and my air compressor to staple the chicken wire to the back of the door.  Using pliers, I curled under all the cut edges hoping that will be enough to keep fingers safe.  It's certainly nothing pretty to look at and I may add some sort of wood trim around it in the future to pretty it up a bit, but for now it works.

I decided to use the existing hardware that had come with the cabinet.  It's modern and I liked how it matched the chicken wire.  I may add an additional shelf at some point, but for now it's in our living room being used as our new media cabinet.  Love it. :)

Just a note:  While I am extremely happy with the way this piece turned out, laminate wouldn't be my first choice when it comes to painting.  Even with a good primer, painted laminate does have a tendency to scratch easily. Of course, if I had any other laminate pieces that I was tired of or felt could be freshened up with paint, I wouldn't hesitate to paint them!

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