Refinishing a Mid Century Modern dresser part 1

Hey ladies and gentleman! So I was perusing good ol' Craigslist the other day and I happened upon a post in the free section that read "Old dresser for free. Peeling veneer. Bad shape. Come pick it up" Well like any good DIYer out there I was not scared by the words "peeling veneer...or bad shape" I just saw the word "old" and was instantly intrigued! So I called the lady when the post was only about 5 mins old and she told me she'd hold it for me. I went and got it and was smitten by the complete amazing-ness of this dresser. It is not my normal style. Its boxy...and very mid century modern-y. I generally tend to gravitate towards french provincial and similar shapes so I was kinda excited to work on something that was out of my element. The veneer was in HORRIBLE shape. This dresser had apparently sat in the rain for 6 months...and if any of you know much about does in fact rain for 6 months straight. So this dresser got LOTS of abuse sitting in the elements. I knew the veneer could not be saved so I decided to remove it. Here it is in its partially deconstructed state

When all the drawers are shut it looks like it has 9 small drawers but its actually 3 large drawers on the left and 3 small drawers on the right. Super cool!
Check out the original pulls. LOVE!
You will need one of the above if you are gonna tackle a project like this. This tool is about 5 bucks at HD and is worth every penny. It works great at spackling, filling holes, opening paint cans, making small "distress marks" in the tops of tables and such to give it character. It seriously rocks!
So to remove the bottom veneer I just had to basically peel it was falling off and chipping and it was easy peasy to get it off the rest of the way. For the top it was a HUGE pain. I started with the corner and started just scraping at the veneer. Some spots would come off easily and I could grab onto it and peel it the rest of the way...but some spots I literally had to chisel off tiny pieces at a time. It was SO frustrating. This is not a project for the faint of heart! And in one spot my hand slipped and stabbed a piece of veneer into my finger and gave me a BAD cut. That stuff is friggin sharp! So after I started getting a cramp in my arm from all the chiseling I decided to consult my good friend google and see if there was a better way. Google told me to spray the veneer LIBERALLY with white vinegar...let it sit for a few...and then try again. Well it works, but not well. It comes off a tad easier and it comes off in bigger chunks but its still a royal pain in the booty! Unfortunately there is no shortcut to this project.
Ok so now that you are all thoroughly depressed...I'll tell you the good news! I went to HD today to look for a new top for the dresser. I wanted something super thin...maybe wood planks? But I wasn't sure. I looked around and there really wasn't anything that struck me as being good for this project. I kept coming back to wood planks though and none of the wood that they had was the right thickness. I was thoroughly bummed until I strolled past the paint department and spied the paint stir sticks. Hm....(wheels turning)...this is the perfect thickness...and the perfect width...but I would need a TON of these things to cover the whole top of the dresser. Well I had the measurements of the top handy and I compared the length that I needed with the length to one of the SUPER long big daddies of paint sticks. Um ya...PERFECT! The part of the stick that goes in and makes the handle...if you were to cut that part off it'd be the exact perfect length for the dresser top!!!! Cut to me GRINNING LIKE A FOOL! So I sweetly told the paint counter chick what I was planning on doing...I then told her about how perfect those big daddy sticks would be...I then asked her to measure the width of them and tell me how many I would need to cover the whole top of the dresser...Um ya that'd be 62! So I then watched her grab a BOX of big daddy sticks down from the shelf and start counting out 62 of them for me! I could not be more in love with this idea...and HD for making it FREE and possible! I then decided to "sweetly" con one of the lumber guys into cutting all the sticks for me. (probably would've been a good idea to dress a little cuter next time) I finally tracked down a kid in the lumber dept and he was more than happy to cut them all  for me. LOVE him! So the dresser was free...the big daddy sticks were free....the cutting was free...all I had to buy was some wood glue to glue those suckers down and some more Dark Walnut stain. Yup I'm probably the cheapest DIYer ever! Part 2 will show you the refinishing process and how I beautified this beast! Stay tuned people!

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