Dailey Woodworks

Fixing Painting and Distressing a $50 Craigslist Dresser

I advertise furniture repairs, painting, and refinishing on Craigslist in my area.  I was contacted by a lady who wanted me to paint and distress a dresser she found on CL for $50.  She also wanted me to remove the top three drawers and install a shelf so it could be used as an entertainment center.  I seem to do a lot of these projects.

Dresser Before

It was nice that this client knew exactly what she wanted.  When I find a dresser to upcycle I have to guess what the potential customer wants, and balance that we my personal taste.  For this project I had them bring me the dresser and the paint colors they wanted (also guards against the “this isn’t the color I chose” argument (which rarely happens)).  Another perk is the project is sold before I even start.

The most challenging part was to fit the shelf in the dresser.  I removed the back and the drawer runners.  This was helpful because I was able to use parts from the discarded drawers to repair the others.  I used biscuit joints to make a wood panel large enough, then notched out the the panel to fit around the face frame.   I found that a handsaw and a chisel were the best tools for this.

Another issue was that a corner of the dresser broke off.  I made a template and repaired the corner.  I show this in detail in the video.


The colors were red and black.  The dresser body was to be red with black distressing, and the drawers were to be black with red distressing.  My first move was to paint the dresser completely black and then paint a second coat of red over it (the drawers were the exact opposite) I then sanded through the top coat to show the under coat.  I also used a technique called dry brushing where as much paint is knocked out of the brush and the remaining  paint is applied in quick sweeping motion.  To highlight small details I used a small craft brush.

Because of the sanding some of the paint had dulled in places.  To bring back the gloss and for color consistency I went over the entire dresser with paste finishing wax.

Here’s the Video

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