Look! So easy even Salem can use it!
Okay, so even though it's so easy my intern could use it, you should practice on something first. You have to sorta get into a groove with power sanding or you'll make sanding marks in the wood and those are a real bitch. So maybe while you're at the hardware store get some practice wood. Then, commence sanding (always WITH the grain). First use a low numbered sandpaper like 60 or 80. Then go for something in the 100's like 140 or 160. Finish with something to smooth it out like 220 grit. Sand like your life depends on it. Sand for a long time. Sand until your furniture looks like this:
And maybe a little further. Sand until your furniture is stripped of all its
dignity previous finish. You'll know because it won't be shiny anymore and will look like raw wood. Even when I thought I had sanded enough, I hadn't.
You may want to try walking away from it after a while so you can come back with fresh eyes rather than stare at it constantly for hours and hours like me. (You know how if you look at a word for long enough it no longer makes sense? It's the same kind of thing here.) I was working on this thing non-stop for so long that my eyes played tricks on me.
Anywho, once you're done sanding (happiness!) you can start painting/staining. For the drawer fronts and insides I opted to paint using "Warm Welcome" by Mythic. For the staining (just follow the directions on the can, stain on, wipe off) I used "Early American" by Miniwax for the first 2 coats and then "Dark Walnut" for the last coat to deepen the color a little. Here's a picture of the dresser with one coat of stain/paint.
From there I added 2 more coats of paint, 2 more coats of stain and 2 coats of MiniWax Polycrylic Protective Finish over the wood. I also stained the little handle cutouts to match the rest of the wood. I think it came out great and I learned some important lessons while doing it:
1. You can do anything with the internet. Although I had very little re-finishing experience I was able to get many of my questions answered with google searches.
2. I like getting dirty and maybe you will too! Having spent a huge portion of my life all gussied-up working in hair salons, I had no idea how incredibly rewarding this work could be. Even though I was sweating in jean shorts for hours and hours, the time flew by and I loved it.
3. With a little practice you can make stuff you really, really like. Just get started. Now. Do it!
My dad used to say, "Be the Nike girl and JUST DO IT!" and while I found that incredibly trite and obnoxious when I was younger, I totally get it now. Especially as I hear and read stories about how much trouble people have just getting started. Things like this can actually be very simple- don't be intimidated. Start small if you're scurred and practice.
Okay, now here's those links I promised. These were very very useful while I was covered in sawdust and paint:
The moon is in Leo and the witches say: "Cast a spell"