Monday, September 12, 2011

Furniture Restoration: Library Card Catalog Drawer

The Finished Product!

I got a library card catalog drawer off of Freecycle a while ago. Our barn/garage had a hole in the roof, so I wanted to refurbish the furniture before it got any water damage.

I repurposed the card catalog into a free standing piece with individual compartments that hold art supplies in my living room. Here's what I did...

- I used some heavy duty clippers to clip the rods off and keep the knobs for the drawers. This was the quickest thing in the entire project since the brass was so soft.

I separated the copper rods and the drawer pulls using clippers
Clipping the rods allowed for instant room inside of the drawers

- I used wood finish on the front of the drawers. Only one side of the actual furniture was finished, so I rubbed it down too. I had plans for the other sides of the piece.

The hulking piece of furniture.

- The brass was the hardest part. It was tarnished really badly. The ammonia in traditional polish began burning my hands by the third drawer, so I found some tips online for natural brass polish. I ended up throwing all of the brass (including the screws) into a bowl of vinegar, ketchup, lemon juice, and baking soda. Then I used the polish to make it sparkle. Please note that water makes brass stain really badly- keep it dry when you're done!

Six hours of brass scrubbing. It tarnished again in less than a day.
Instant tarnish remover: ketchup and vinegar

It would have been easiest to take the pulls off first and stain the facade while your brass is sitting in the ketchup. I did it the hard way and went around the pulls when I stained. Big mistake. Take the brass off and put on an even coat of stain. So, the drawers were stained twice.

- The drawers got put back together.

- I cut out little tabs to fit inside of the pulls. Later, I plan on using a typewriter to label everything.

- I took out all of the spacers inside of the drawers. Some of them had them permanently attached. They just got pushed to the back of the drawer to allow more room for storage. Spacers are those spring loaded pieces in the drawers that help you push the cards towards the front so they don't fall over.

- Next, I painted the sides and bottom of the frame (which will house the drawers). I realized that the bottom was made of cheap plywood so I had to reinforce it with a laminated piece of wood and wood screws. Otherwise, it wouldn't have been able to support the legs.

- Once the laminated piece of wood reinforced the bottom, I used a drill to put in top plates. These are metal thingies that have a screw receptacle for table legs.

- I painted the table legs.

- I screwed the table legs into the bottom/top plates.

- I put the furniture in my living room. The top was unfinished at this point. I got too excited and already put the drawers back in.

- I used wood filler to fill in the holes on top of the frame. These holes were originally for stacking these card catalogs. This also explains why only the front wood was finished; if they were stacked, you couldn't see the other sides.

- I sanded down the wood filler with a medium grit sandpaper.

- I painted the top of the frame... and then celebrated! Because I was done!!!!

The card catalog in my living room.

One day I plan on borrowing my mother's typewriter so that I can label each of the drawers. They hold a lot of different things- from tape measures to incense to empty note pads.

If you plan on taking something like this on, check the durability of the underside of your furniture. Ours was made of a shabby plywood and wasn't thick enough to support the legs. We had to buy a piece of laminated wood (solid would be more practical) and use thick wood screws to reinforce the bottom of the furniture. If we hadn't done this, it wouldn't have been able to support it's weight.

Good luck! If you decide to take on a furniture restoration project like this, please let me know!
-Katie B

1 comment:

  1. Christina12.9.11

    This came out fantastic!