We start out with...a photo of me.

September in Houston is still pretty humid. Since I'm staining drawers today, being inside was not an option. I contemplated putting it off another week, but really, the humidity isn't likely to be any better. And the longer I take to finish, the less likely I will get it done before Christmas.

So the photo. Somehow you can't really see it, but I was a hot mess after sanding down the drawers this morning. I almost never sweat, even in the humidity. So my youngest was shocked to see it dripping down my forehead. He felt a picture was warranted. You know, with nothing but moisturizer and lip balm on, sweaty hair pulled back in a ponytail, feeling super gross. But I took it to humor him. And then he said to make sure I posted it with all my other photos I was taking. Clearly, he has a twisted sense of humor.

So let's to what we really came here for. Drawers.

This is what I started with. Five drawers that had seen better days. About three years ago, he stuck some stickers all over the front of the drawers. I really tried scraping them off, but to no avail. Yesterday The Builder came to the rescue and took off most of the residue with the isopropyl alcohol he uses for cleaning metal at work. Thank goodness, as I have no idea where my goo gone has gone! (yes, I said that intentionally)

When I went to Home Depot to pick up my standard orange varnish remover, it wasn't there. There wasn't even a spot where it was sold out. I admit I wasn't patient enough to flag someone down and see if they had it in the back, or if it was in a different spot. I did a quick review of my product options and went with this:

First off. This stuff worked GREAT. I was able to get off all the varnish the first go around (except for one, that I forgot to strip, and had to re-apply this morning...oops). But. This stuff is seriously toxic. The directions tell you to wear safety goggles and gloves. Ahem. I didn't do that. Not only did I ignore that, I was wearing shorts and was barefooted (#humidityisakiller) When I use this the next time, and I have a ton left over, I will not make that mistake again. I was very careful while applying it, but I got a few tiny little splashes on my fingers and toes.  And it BURNS. I quickly rinsed in cold water, and there are no marks, but I understand why they tell you to wear protective gear. 

So after a quick scrape with a plastic scraper, here is what my drawers initially looked like:

I will admit. I was sort of freaking out. The stain I bought was a little darker because I know I have scratches and gouges that will not sand out. It's not super dark, but it is more forgiving. But picturing putting a medium toned stain over this very orange looking pine did not make me excited. I knew that I still needed to sand everything down and was hoping that that would do the trick. 

Sometimes you really do get lucky!

About 95% of the old stain sanded out perfectly! There are some spots around the edge that even with a wool brush, I just couldn't scrape out. But I wasn't looking for perfection for this project. This chest of drawers has survived three boys over a 10+ year time period. If I really wanted perfect, I'd have to buy something new. Which means we'd just build it. At this point in time, that's completely unnecessary as these are still in excellent condition. 

Here's a quick shot of some of the sanded drawers: 

Night and day difference. 

Again, while this happened to have been an inexpensive pine chest of drawers when I bought it, it is all real wood. It was worth the time to refinish. That being said, I think my hand was ready to fall off by the time I was done sanding! I forgot we bought an orbital sander a year or so ago and I bought sandpaper for our ancient old electric sander. It certainly got the job done easy enough, but it was murder on my hand.

I used a Minwax stain. I have to say, I'm not a huge fan of Minwax. I greatly prefer Rustoleum stains. However, it has become increasingly difficult to find it except on Amazon, where it's double the cost of what I used to pick up for at Lowes. I need to try my local Ace Hardware and see if they carry it.

If you follow me on Instagram, you already saw this photo. But I'm super pleased at how these came out. I initially brushed on a heavy coat of stain (I wanted to make sure I was getting into all the cracks and crevices that did not sand out) and then wiped it off with a towel. All they need now is a coat of satin varnish. I'm hoping to get that done today, but it will depend on how quickly the stain dries. I may bring them in the house for a bit to speed up the drying time since I don't think the fumes will be as bad now. 

I'm ordering these cup pulls for D Lawless Hardware:

When he picked out the paint for the dresser, we took a look to see what hardware was available. He really liked this style and they're easy to get. At $5 a piece, they're not terribly expensive. However, at D Lawless, they're under $2 a piece. I've ordered from them before and have always been very pleased with the quality. Since I still plan to have a built in desk in his closet, I'm going to order enough for that as well for a more cohesive look. I will need to drill new holes to install these, but that's a minor fix. 

Once the dresser is done, I'm The Builder going to tackle painting the ceiling, then we can get to the walls. The ceiling stains from the leaking a/c tubing are driving me crazy and paint is an easy fix. We will probably install the new floors after we paint the ceiling, but before we do the walls. 

More to come!