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Before and After: Nightstands (The Tutorial)

As promised, here’s a step-by-step tutorial on the process I used to refinish the nightstands I shared last week.  If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to send me an email!

I started out by removing the hardware, filling the old holes, and drilling a new one in a pre-measured spot to accommodate my new hardware.  To set the new hole in its proper place, I measured the distance between the old holes (since I liked their height) and divided by two (yes, math comes in handy!!).   As for the filler, I’m not too picky about the brand, but I prefer to use something in a tube versus a flat container, because it keeps the product moist (very important with filler) and therefore easier to manipulate (it’s been my experience that no matter how hard I try to keep it sealed, the product in the flat container dries out quickly).

After allowing the filler to dry, I pulled out my electric sander and did a light sand on the body of the nightstand and the drawers (to smooth the filler) .  Sandpaper/sanding blocks come in various grits that determine the roughness of its surface. For light scratches, you should start with a medium grit (120) and finish off with a very fine grit (220 or 290) to ensure the smoothest possible finish.  With my nightstands I used 120 and 220. You can always do this step with a sanding block, but an electric sander is worth the small investment if you refinish (or are going to be refinishing) a lot of furniture.

After sanding, I wiped the piece down with a damp, lint-free cloth to remove all of the debris, then it was painting time! Because the key to a great refinishing job is prep work, I primed the nightstands with both white and grey primer (I used what I had, but grey is great if you’re going dark), and allowed it to sufficiently dry before applying the paint.  You don’t need to worry about the primer being perfect (like it was a top coat), but you do want to make sure that the piece is fully & evenly covered, especially if you’re skipping the sanding step.  

Spray paint, while easy, is not my favorite thing to use on furniture because of the streaking. However, since I had plenty of black spray paint laying around, I decided to use what I had on hand and applied the paint with my trusty spray gun.  As most of you know, an inexpensive spray gun is a must-have when using spray paint.  Even for the smallest projects, it ensures even coverage (as best as possible) and will keep your index finger from feeling like it’s going to break off after applying several layers of paint.  Remember, the key to spray paint is to keep the can moving and apply light coats! It’s much better to do several light coats than to be impatient and try to cover the whole thing in one pass.  A heavy application will cause the product to run (leaving drip marks) and make drying difficult.  I generally like to do 4 light coats, but it depends heavily on the starting condition of the piece.

After applying several light coats and allowing them to dry for a day (I like my pieces to cure as long as possible), I applied the protectant using Minwax Wipe-On Poly and a lint-free cloth.  The key to using it is to build layer upon layer until you get the level of gloss you like, so I generally do 2-3 coats for a medium gloss.  When the occasion calls for high shine, I recommend 5-6 coats, but just remember that they should be light. I generally use the Clear Gloss (versus Clear Satin), and the lint-free cloths can be found in the same aisle as the Wipe-On Poly.

I allowed the top coat to dry for 3 days to allow for off-gassing, and I recommend you do the same, if you have the time.  This will ensure that your home won’t be subjected to toxic fumes, and will also ensure that the piece is cured and ready to withstand picture frames, keys, glasses, etc. (at a minimum, your piece should dry for 8 hours).   After curing, that’s it–your beautifully finished piece is now ready to be placed front and center in your (or your client’s) home!

Any other tips from my fellow refinishers? Also, if you’re still unsure of what to do with your piece, drop me a line! šŸ™‚


13 Comments on Before and After: Nightstands (The Tutorial)

  1. niki.mac
    September 29, 2010 at 8:25 am (8 years ago)

    This is a great tutorial! And beautiful finished product šŸ™‚

  2. Karen@StrictlySimpleStyle
    September 29, 2010 at 9:18 am (8 years ago)

    Thanks for the tips Dayka. I have dressers in my master bed that need new hardware but I haven’t been able to find any that are the right size. I’m thinking that wood filler and a paint job could be the solution.

  3. Angela
    September 29, 2010 at 9:46 am (8 years ago)

    Thanks! I’m going to tackle my first project really soon. Again, your nightstands are beautiful!

  4. Champagne Taste
    September 29, 2010 at 10:10 am (8 years ago)

    I’m really feeling those stands girl! i bet they look fabulous with those lamps u redid a few months back! I wanna see pics when ur room is done!!!!

  5. Terry
    September 29, 2010 at 2:12 pm (8 years ago)

    The old pull’s screw holes are a pain. You can never find the new pulls you want that match the old holes. Really kills the fun. In our kitchen we didn’t fill the old single holes and you can’t tell unless you know. That was a lucky break because kitchens have a million pulls and a billion screw holes.

  6. Joi
    September 29, 2010 at 10:44 pm (8 years ago)

    Girl, these are so chic! I love the high gloss look! They went from mid century to hollywood regency! LOVE the transformation!

  7. Mrs. Chic
    September 30, 2010 at 11:32 am (8 years ago)

    I would have never thought your sprayed painted these! They turned out so great, me and spray paint do mix for flat surface items.

    I still have yet to try the wipe on poly…I gotta get some stat – the shine is so lovely!

  8. Mr. Goodwill Hunting
    October 1, 2010 at 12:20 pm (8 years ago)

    Ive been looking for night stands as well (well kinda)…I have lucked up yet on the perfect night stand paired with the right price.

    These give me hope. I love what you have done with these pieces.

    Mr. Goodwill Hunting

  9. LindsB
    October 8, 2010 at 3:51 pm (8 years ago)

    These came out so beautiful! You must show us pictures of them in your bedroom too šŸ™‚

  10. P.S. I love this...
    November 7, 2010 at 12:11 am (8 years ago)

    These look beautiful! Thanks for the tutorial. What kind of sander do you use?

  11. LAURA!!!
    November 9, 2010 at 1:14 pm (8 years ago)

    woah. love!

  12. Samantha
    December 17, 2010 at 2:31 pm (8 years ago)

    i LOVE how these turned out. Thanks for stopping by my blog šŸ™‚


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