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I used to have an elliptical trainer sitting across from my dining room table. I kept thinking how much nicer the space would look, with a pretty buffet sitting along that wall. Plus it would give me extra storage space, who doesn’t need more storage space?Besides I already had a gym membership 🙂
Plan A – Purchase
My initial plan was to just purchase a mirrored buffet. So I started looking around online to find something that I liked, Here are some of the styles that I was looking at.
My plan B was to buy a plain IKEA sideboard, for about $300, and just add on the mirrors, and some overlays. However, our nearest IKEA, requires a ferry ride (This is the price you pay for living on a rock, albeit a beautiful one) that runs us about $100 each way. Then I thought about getting it delivered, but the cost of delivery was as much as the buffet, which made it $600, instead of $300. So, onto plan C…
Plan C – Do it Yourself
Then I decided to go full DIY, and just find an old wooden dresser, that I could turn into the mirrored buffet that I wanted. I went shopping on the local used.com site, and came up with this beauty!
I bought it for $80. This was my very first used.com shopping experience, so I overpaid. The guy was asking $100. It had been sitting there for quite a while. If I were to do this again, I probably would have just offered him $50 for it. Lessons… it is however solid wood, and good construction. That is one thing to watch out for when shopping for used dressers. Check to make sure that the drawers slide smoothly. There is nothing more frustrating than sticky drawers 🙂
I loaded this little gem into the back of my SUV, and headed for home.
The next decision was to pick a colour. I am a very big fan of dark, dark brown furniture and cabinetry. I had seen a post from Monica wants it for Espresso stained cabinets and headed off to my local supplier of General Finishes paints and stains. This is an American product, but luckily for me, our local Lee Valley Tools store carries this line. If you can’t find it locally, you can buy it here on Amazon. And I love these little painter’s pyramids too!
Staining – Java Gel Stain
I have since used this product on another piece, if you want to see the progression of the stain colour check this post out.
For general finishes gel stain, you don’t need to strip or sand down the existing finish. You merely need to do a VERY light sanding. Basically, just lightly run a sanding block over the surface. As with all staining projects, WEAR GLOVES. It’s called STAIN for a reason 🙂 If you do end up getting stain on your hands, arms, legs … or face… maybe you are a really messy stainer;-) use vegetable oil to get it off. I shit you not 😉 It works, and it is a LOT easier on your skin than turpentine.
Cover your work area, and take apart your piece as much as possible. I applied the stain using a sponge brush, and then wiped away the excess with a rag (Greg’s old t-shirt :))I did 3 coats of stain, and 2 coats of satin topcoat (also General Finishes brand). I also used those handy dandy little yellow painter’s pyramids under the doors. This allows you to get the edges done, without sticking to your drop-cloth. I even used them under the dresser to keep the bottom edge elevated while I painted it. These puppies are well worth the price (cheap).
Legs (or Feet)
I didn’t want this piece to sit directly on the floor, so I went shopping for legs. I went with a bun foot which I got from our local. “Finishing Store” seriously, that is actually the name of the store. The legs cost $8 each. The dresser didn’t have a spot to screw in a leg, so I glued and screwed a small block of wood, into each corner, with a hole drilled in it, to screw the feet into. These were also stained in the same finish.
I really wanted a mirrored finish with an overlay of some kind. The mirror pieces I measured out and ordered from a local glass supply company. I left about a 1″ margin of wood around the mirror pieces. Since this was getting glued onto hard wood, I went with only a 5mm thickness for the mirrors. I also bucked up to have the edges buffed off, just so I didn’t end up cutting myself while assembling. I suggest shopping around, because there was a pretty substantial price difference between glass suppliers.
I did quite a bit of searching before, settling on a laser wood cutout from Michael’s craft store. These were made by Artminds. These came in sheets that were just a bit smaller than the size that I needed to cover the dimensions of the doors. I took two of the sheets and lined them up, so that the pattern was pretty close and traced around where I would need to cut them. Then I used my handy dandy Rotary tool to cut these delicate cuts. Once the pieces were cut, I glued them together with white glue, and taped them up while they dried.
There was a bit of mudding and sanding, but not too much. I didn’t have to worry too much about the colour differences, as the dark stain would cover these small imperfections.
Once the dresser was all stained up, I adhered the mirrors to the doors and drawers, using construction adhesive. Take your time ensuring that the mirrors are straight. Measure and measure again. You have quite a bit of time before the glue sets up. So make sure they are perfect and then leave them overnight. I used a heavy book to weigh them down. (I knew those books from university would come in handy one day 😉 I then encased the mirrors with a small thin piece of trim. It took a few different samples to find the right one, which both looked good and also had the right amount of depth for the overlay pieces. I pre-stained all of these and then cut them to size with a hand mitre saw. I cut them on a 45 degree angle, and glued them into place around the edge of the mirrors. I just used white Elmer’s glue to adhere these. The construction adhesive was too messy for this small job. I used painters tape to hold these in place. You need to tape them tight and let them dry overnight. Finally, I used my multi tool to sand off the edges of the overlay pieces where needed, so that they fit flush inside the trim pieces and on top of the mirrors.
There are a few ways to go with handles. You could have the glass shop drill holes in the mirror pieces, before you affix them. This is a bit pricey, plus if you screw the screws too tight, they will end up cracking the mirrors, which would be horrible after they were already glued down. You can’t drill glass with a regular drill bit, it will just crack. So I just opted to glue them on. Originally, I just used white glue, but it’s too brittle and they ended up coming off. So, I reattached them with Marine silicone, which is used for aquariums, and designed to hold glass together under pressure, and so far so good 🙂
I went with a bit of a blingy handle to match the mirrored finish. I bought these ones at Home Depot, here are some similar ones
And here is my DIY Mirrored Buffet completed and dressed
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