Around twenty seven years ago, I had just moved into my first unfurnished flat and my parents quickly sourced a number of items for it. One of which was this chest of drawers. Its been through the wars a bit since, the varnish cracking and was a bit water damaged in places. I’ve always intended at some point to re-varnish it, but never got round to it until now.

It didn’t match the dark brown wood with black that the rest of our bedroom is finished in. So one a refinishing job on one of the largest items I’ve attempted so far began

I started with the drawers. Though the original varnish sanded off very quickly, the veneer finish underneath didn’t absorb the dark wood stain evenly. I found it was better if I applied it with a natural sponge rather than a brush, it left a less streaky finish. A couple of coats of stain appeared to provide a sufficiently good base for the Ronseal Satin Walnut Varnish to build on.

Its a truth of decorating jobs, that once you emulsion a wall it will highlight the shabby nature of other paintwork. In the case of the drawers the rather stained and dirty state of inside the drawers. So I decided to paint the drawers interior with Farrow & Ball Portland Stone No 275. This made the process of painting and re-varnishing of the drawers far more logistically complicated than I’d at first planned. I tried to adopt a sequence where bye I’d not be endlessly touching up edges or redoing varnish finishes. I didn’t entirely succeed in this aim.

The drawers took an age to do. So by the time I got to the cheat of the drawers I was looking forward to something a bit more straightforward. I varnished only the top. I chose to paint the sides and drawer edges and handles in Blackfriars Matt Black. The matt finish providing a contrast to the satin finish. However, I didn’t think it would take constant handling well, so I ended up having to apply Ronseal Matt Clear Varnish in order to improve its durability. On the sides of the unit it took several coats to get a uniform finish.

When I put the drawers in it became immediately apparent that the top three were substantially different in tone to the bottom three. I blame the poor light levels in my workshop, because I had checked this and thought they were OK. Any how it wasn’t hard to rectify, a further three coats of walnut varnish and it was sorted.

You are always more aware of the process of doing a job, and this often affects how you feel about the finished piece. I am quite pleased with the completed finish of the chest of drawers, whilst also being aware it went a bit beyond being a labour of love at times.