The latest project

Vaega tolu – part three: originally I had planned my blog to be about my sailing adventures and living aboard a sailboat in my retirement.  However, circumstances have changed that plan so now it will be about a myriad of different things in ‘my seatirement’.  Other than cleaning up our other boat – ‘Shell de Mer’, ready for sailing around Moreton Bay, my latest project has been the restoration of an old dresser/ sideboard type thingy.   My partner has had it for a number of years (approx 15) after buying it from a second hand shop.  It was already painted pink and was used for storage in her laundry.   For all those years the bottles of laundry liquid, bleach and a myriad of other things were placed on top of the dresser and dribbles and spills ate into and stained the wood of the top.

There is no known history of the piece other than the above.  I have no idea of how old it is or where it has come from or who the maker may have been.

Subsequent stripping of the pink paint revealed that over time three other colours had been applied over the original stain from when the piece was first made. Yellow, green and blue – I don’t think any of them would have actually enhanced the piece from its original stained natural wood finish.  It looks to be primarily made of oak (I think) with some pine for shelving and frames.  There are holes in the top which suggest there may have been a hutch to go with the dresser.  One of the drawers has more recently had separators added for cutlery.  The timber used to do so is part of an old butter box.

My inexperienced layman’s observations during the project could lead me to make some assumptions about the piece. It may be extremely old, or is a ‘home build’ or maybe even an apprentice’s project.  What I have found during my work;

  • nothing is square or the same dimension,
  • each end has a different depth,
  • the three drawers are all different sizes
  • consequently, the three compartments and doors are different widths,
  • some pieces have had sections added to make the required width of doors and shelves,
  • there is plenty of evidence of hand planning to even shelf thickness and flatten out components,
  • there is evidence of scoring to mark measurements for cutting and shaping,
  • There are still rough saw marks under shelves and the top and at the back of doors, so the pieces out of sight were not finished properly.
  • Different sized screws have been used in different spots to screw the top to the frame.

The process of ‘restoration’ by me was; dismantle to a bare skeleton and then strip as much paint as possible.  In cracks and crevasses I used a pick to scrape out as much of the deeply embedded paint as possible.  Some substantial sanding helped to partially even out some of rough and uneven surfaces.  Some pine frame pieces that were heavily attacked by borers were replaced.

Until such a time as I can find a suitable replacement for the heavily damaged top I decided to attempt to hide the scars by a simple carving.  Hopefully, my naive artwork has done so.

Due to the different colours of what paint I couldn’t score out I lightly stained the piece then finished off with a satin finish varnish.

The fittings for the drawers and doors were scrapped, polished or painted then sprayed with a gloss varnish. 

I am by no means an expert or experienced wood worker or furniture restoration man – just a man filling spare time but all in all I am happy with the end result. 

I do have some other pieces that have been gathering dust just waiting for some attention.   


  1. What a wonderful transformation, and interesting story possibilities behind this piece. Had me imagining someone in an old farmhouse putting it together by hand at the turn of the last century and subsequent owners adding or removing parts to suit their purposes. Thank you for bringing it back to life and beauty♥️

    Liked by 1 person

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