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Discussion Starter #1
I recently was given a small (ill call it a dresser,but its not), its like a small kids vanity. 4 doors, a surface top and 4 shelves. The whole thing is only about 3-1/2 feet tall and 2 feet wide.

Its been passed down through our family. Since 1928, so im told built by my great grandpa for my grandma, when she was a child. I was given it for my daughter.
So i am somewhat revamping it, and want to keep it as original as possible. I have disassembled it and kept all the old hardware.

The thing was a bear to disassemble especially for how small it was. It was built with 2-1/2" nails.

So the nail holes are reamed out now just from being old. So are the holes for the small hindges, (tiny hindges) for the doors.

There are a few cracks it looks like someone has tried to repair.

How can i fix the enlarged holesto renail and the hindge holes?

Any ideas.

I have sanded it down because someone tried to stain it but had not done it very well, after sanding i noticed it used to colored green, kinda cool to see maybe the original color.

Thanks,
 

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Difficult to say without being there. If the holes are wallowed out you might replace with finish screws or you might put wooden match sticks in the holes with a little glue. Any old joints which have been glued before assemble those with two part epoxy. Wood glue only works on porous materials and the wood is sealed with the old glue.

Without seeing the cracks it's difficult to advise. Usually when wood splits it's from wood movement and shrinkage. If you force it back together under stress the split will return or split elsewhere.

The hinges probably should be re-installed with screws instead of nails.

If you sanded the finish off be sure to thoroughly sand it. Generally it's a bad practice to sand the finish off wood to stain. Some of the finish penetrates into the wood and seals it. Then when you apply stain you find spots that don't accept the stain.
 

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I agree. Photos would be very helpful. Also, it would help to know what kind of wood it is. At least let us know if it is hardwood or soft.

I'm assuming that the piece is a family heirloom only and not anything with antique value. As such, it might be appropriate to reassemble with screws rather than nails. However, if the screw heads will be exposed, you might choose to put finish nails back. Either way, as Steve said, plug the original holes with wood and glue. I like to get small wood dowels for this purpose or shave down some wood "splinters" of the same or similar species. If you decide to use screws, you might consider finding screws with small heads called trim head screws.

If you think that the original color was green, was it painted? Did they have green stain back then? If you consider painting it, some of your decisions regarding repair and reassembly will be easier as they won't be as readily seen.

It is hard to tell you how to go about fixing the cracks without seeing some photos.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Unfortunately i did not take pictures assembled before i took it apart.
But i do have these photos. Its two different types of wood it looks like. The light wood is softer the dark wood feels more hard.

You can see where the small hindges were located.
 

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From what I can see the wood is poplar except maybe a fir plywood back. Poplar can run anywhere from white to green to black. It probably originally was painted which is very common for poplar.

The hinge holes you could just glue a wooden match stick in the holes and it would hold screws very well.
 

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I agree. It looks like mostly poplar with maybe a piece or two of pine. Don't even think of trying to stain it. Because of the color and grain variations, you will have a very difficult time making it look good. A good primer and paint is the answer. Make your repairs, put it back together with glue, screws and/or dowels, prime and paint. It should be good for many years. As you reassemble, make sure the shelves fit the dadoes snugly. If they are a loose fit, cut some thin shims to snug them up before gluing.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Oh really poplar huh?
I was looking forward to staining and seeing the different grains, of the older wood.

Maybe i will rethink it, if paint will be better.
 

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Oh really poplar huh?
I was looking forward to staining and seeing the different grains, of the older wood.

Maybe i will rethink it, if paint will be better.
Maybe you could replace a piece or two that has really contrasting color and then use a gel stain to finish with. A gel stain is like thinned down paint and will cover up some of the wood. It would be closer to what you want than paint.
 

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It is really a matter of opinion and personal taste. If you like the contrasting colors then go for it. You can accentuate the contrast to it's max by just using a clear finish. Or get something in between by using a lighter or darker stain. There is no right or wrong or better or worse. Keep in mind that if it turns out with a look you don't like, you can always paint over the stain and clear finish.
 

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any bets on how the door detail was made?
looks like a dado blade set at a 45°

Wouldn't it be more likely hand tools?
Being that the dresser has been built since at least 1928? I would being guessing a mixture of planes and chisels.

Edit. After rereading. I notice you jist said that's what it looks like, not that that was what you thought it was. I might of misread your post.

Cool dresser btw. Can't wait to see finished project.
 

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Don't even think of trying to stain it. Because of the color and grain variations, you will have a very difficult time making it look good.
I disagree ... somewhat.

Poplar can appear blotchy when stained, but that can be at least somewhat remedied by a coat or two of wood conditioner, before applying the stain. I've seen some nice stained poplar projects.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Don't even think of trying to stain it. Because of the color and grain variations, you will have a very difficult time making it look good.
I disagree ... somewhat.

Poplar can appear blotchy when stained, but that can be at least somewhat remedied by a coat or two of wood conditioner, before applying the stain. I've seen some nice stained poplar projects.
Can i get a wood conditioner at a big box, or local hardware? Or do i need to go to a specialty store.
 
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