You may have checked out our previous blog, Undressing A Dresser, and if you did then here’s part 2, if you haven’t check it out here! We’re going to dive right in, and give you the next set of steps. After we’ve undressed a dresser, it’s time to start prepping the dresser for design. Sometimes, things don’t go as smoothly as this tutorial, but for the most part, it is generally the best way to prep for paint!

Putty nicks, dings and divots

Since most of our pieces come with wear like nicks, dings, and divots, we have to make sure the finish is smooth for paint. To fix the pieces and bring them to level with the rest of the wood. To do this we typically use putty – the best is ZAR Wood Patch, to level out the wood. To apply putty you need a metal scrapper, and gently apply it to level it out. Do not use a thick layer! If it’s too thick, when you go to sand it, it actually can come out of whatever scratch or ding that you are fixing. Apply a layer, and then sand, and repeat. Applying a few thin layers is key here. Sometimes things are messy and we have to rebuild a corner or whatnot, and if that’s the case, you may need to wait a full day for the putty to dry before you try to make it level.


Next is sanding down the dresser.  One of the key aspects to making the paint go on smooth and look like a professional finish is to sand down the top of the dresser.  Regardless if we are not sanding down the sides, the drawers or the legs – we must ALWAYS sand down the top. Sanding down the top gives a wonderful feel as a person’s hand glides over it and it also is very noticeable when it’s not done correctly or done at all.  

So with that said as we beginning to sand down a dresser, we need to determine what type of surface we are sanding first. Depending on the surface that you are sanding you either start with the 80 grit sandpaper or the 120 grit sandpaper.  If you are doing a Mid Century style that has very little varnish it’s probably best to start with 120 grit and then after you have sanded down to the wood veneer you switch to a 400 grit sandpaper to polish the wood. However, if the top has a very thick layer of polyurethane on it or a thick varnish its best to start with an 80 grit sandpaper and sand it down till you get to the veneer.

The tools you’ll need to sand down the dresser is the shop vac and the orbital sander.  To ensure dust doesn’t go flying everywhere when you sand you need to turn on the shop vac.  Then get the orbital sandpaper and place it on the orbital sander.

When you sand you need to keep the sander level with the dresser and let the sander do the work.  I have found many times when I push too hard is when it literally goes right through the vanish through the veneer to the wood below.  We can’t let this happen. Also as you sand you need to constantly keep the sander moving from left to right and away from you and to you.  If you keep it in the same place you risk going through the veneer which we can’t have to happen.


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