The Jewelry Armoire Makeover

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In this upcycle project, we had the opportunity to bring in a jewelry armoire from one of our Woodcraft marketing team members, Lori Haught.  Lori decided rather than putting this in her Spring yard sale, why not refurbish it and give her bedroom decor an added useful piece to match other items therein.  So, it was off to the Woodcraft product development department for a plan of action, and then to the woodshop to make it happen.  How did we do it?  We’ll take you through our step-by-step process of morphing the unit as shown in both photos below from the before to the after results.  Like any good car shopper, you'll need to look under the hood and inside the interior.  This baby is no different.

As you can see in the before photo above, two of the drawer pulls were missing, the wood was pretty dry and scuffed, but for the most part it was still a functional piece, as all the joints were intact and the base/legs were still strong.  The wood was actually laminated on MDF pressed board and it was dated back to the 1980′s from a Rosalco Collection called The Commodore.  As we brought it into the product department, everyone took an interest with ideas and input on how and what to upcycle it with.  But Lori already had a plan for using the new Black Gel Stain from General Finishes, available at Woodcraft.  She also decided upon some “blingy” drawer pulls, long before the unit was taken apart!

Disassembly & Prep

With Ben’s thoroughly logical approach from start to finish in mind, he took charge dismantling the hardware, removing the glued on drawer fronts with a chisel which exposed the internal drawer pull screws.  He numbered each drawer, and also marked them with a “B” for a bottom reassembly point of reference.

Other disassembled items consisted of a mirror casing assembly, held together under the top lid with 8 small screws, 2 hinges, and 1 ball bearing clasp.  All gold hardware will be replaced later with silver hardware to match the silver/glass pull knobs.

Inside the lidded top compartment, Ben also removed a wooden stop shelf used for the hinged mirror casing assembly to rest at a viewing angle when the lid was opened.  This will also be gel stained and top coated to match the rest of the casing.  Now it was time to head to the shop, cover the workbench with Kraft paper and non-slip pads, layout all components, and commence with sanding all parts.

Sanding & Cleaning

To remove the old finish and any polish residue, we used various sponge sanding blocks on the contoured detailed areas, and Preppin Weapon Sanding Blocks, loaded with 120 and 220 grit Abranet for the flat surfaces.  The last items to be dismantled and sanded were the four legs from the chassis held by two bolts per leg.  Once again we used the sanding sponges due to the legs contoured surface.  Once all was sanded, a thorough cleaning was handled by General Finishes Furniture Cleaner and a few Star Wipers soft rags.

Gel Stain

Now the real fun began with gel staining the armoire with the new Black Gel Stain.  If you’ve never worked with gel stains, let me tell you, a little goes a long way and it is very easy to work with.  Similar to a previous DIY Upcycling Home Project, upcycling an entertainment unit with Java Gel, we gave this armoire 3 coats of gel stain which went on amazingly smooth and with outstanding coverage.  What’s especially nice about the gel stains is that the wood grain can still be seen after the applications.  It was actually fun to refurbish and see this project come to fruition.

Here are one, two, and three coat gel stain application examples:

Top Coat

After 3 coats of gel stain were completed, we allowed each coat an overnight drying time due to other commitments, although 2-4 hours between coats is typical for the range of  atmospheric temps, as stated on the can’s directions.  Two coats of General Finishes High Performance Satin Water Based Top Coat were applied and here are the results.

New Hardware Prep

Wood filler was used to plug all previous screw holes, excluding the drawer pull holes.  A pair of Satin Nickel Hinges replaced the single thin gold bar hinge requiring some chiseled recessed pockets.  One thing to take into account here is the length of the new hinge screws with the thickness of the top lid.  These particular screws were too long for a recess to be cut into the lid for half of the hinge placement, as they would have protruded through.  So it was decided to chisel out the cabinet for the full depth of the hinge as shown below.  The top lip of the cabinet was then gel stained and top coated.

You might recall, the cabinet top lid also had two small gold hinges for the mirror assembly.  We didn’t worry about filling those previous hinge holes as the new hinges would cover the old screw holes (shown right).  All hardware assembly would be done after one more final fun design change to the armoire.

Flocking!

Oh yeah!  There’s always a first time for everything and flocking is no exception.  Put your fears aside, this was a blast!  To begin, please read all instructions on the DonJer Flocking Adhesive and Flocking material insert guide.

The old flocking was previously attached to thin wooden strips aligning the interior walls of each drawer and to the wooden dividers in two of the drawers. Rather than recreate those elements by removing them and creating new ones, we decided to re-flock the old flocked areas inclusive of all the dividers since they were all in good shape with one exception, the ring drawer.  After reading the flocking adhesive directions, we found that the manufacturer suggests using a sealer before applying the new color match flocking adhesive.   No problem, Woodcraft has just the perfect item, Zinsser Bulls Eye Seal Coat.  We used this on all 4 drawer interiors, inclusive of the dividers, the inside top of the cabinet, and let it dry according to the instructions.

I was once taught to start with the most difficult part of a project and proceed to the easier areas. Well, we threw that idea out the window and started with the simpler drawers without any dividers, leaving the ring drawer with its foam ring inserts for last!

We taped off all the drawer tops, wrapped Kraft paper around the main unit, created a plastic lined flocking box for the drawers, and we began applying Lori’s choice of the Light Blue Color Undercoat Adhesive which matches and comes with the Flocking you can get at Woodcraft.  We worked diligently and in no time at all our assembly line got the job done.

One thing to point out here is about applying the flocking with the Donjer Mini-Flocker (sold separately).  When you think you have enough flocking material applied, ADD MORE!  This is most important to remember, since the adhesive is still wet; apply a thick generous even amount.  Be sure to order enough of the flocking material ahead of time for your specific size project.  Absolutely adhere to all safety measures inclusive of using a Dust Mask as the flocking filaments are fluffy light and easy to be inadvertently inhaled.  We also used Nitrile Gloves during the adhesive and gel stain applications.  We found that very little of the flocking came off the walls once the adhesive had soaked in the flocking material.

Ring Drawer

The next step was to redesign the ring drawer with it’s foam inserts.  Lori decided to purchase some new Black Velveteen from the local fabric store to give  this particular drawer some contrast while having it match the gel stained surfaces.  Together, we removed the old foam inserts from the drawer trying to leave each foam ring intact next to each other thinking at first that we could glue one Velveteen sheet over the entire ring insert collectively.  Bad idea!  Trying to press the new material inside each foam insert, pulling and placing just didn’t work in an even manner.  So Lori cut each foam insert apart.  Using an E6000 Spray Adhesive donated by Kent from our Product Department which worked ideally, we wrapped each insert individually with separate Velveteen pieces around each foam roll.  The result was exactly what we were hoping for, sheer perfection!

Although we did not Seal Coat the ring inserts before spraying the E6000, with hindsight that the adhesive took a few days to completely dry, I would have used the Shellac to make the foam impervious to the adhesive.

Reassembly

All that was left to do was to Epoxy and Clamp the drawer fronts onto each drawer, followed by assembling the new silver hardware to finish the project.  These Bessey Revo Clamps were perfect for this project because of the non-marring cushioned clamp surface area contacting the newly stained and top coated drawer fronts.

Time to Show it Off!

Neither of us knew how the flocking and Velveteen portions were going to turn out, but for first timers, working with the flocking, we think it came out pretty professional looking. Now we are inspired to do more upcycling projects as Lori is compiling a small list of to-do’s , so stay linked!

Upcycle something today! You can do this, we can help!

auf Wiedersehen!….Frank

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