Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Dentist's Cabinet

I have had this piece for a LONG time.  It came from my Mémère Mercier's basement. 

In Townsend, it lived on our sun porch for about 20 years... 

For a long time, I thought it might be a machinist's tool chest, but was not really sure what it's original purpose was.  I found a small label inside one of the doors that indicated it was made by The American Cabinet Company in Two Rivers Wisconsin, and through some on-line research, learned that it is a dental cabinet.  Which makes sense as some of the drawers had these trays that I now recognize must be for dental instruments.

Here's what mine probably looked like originally.

A roll top covers the upper drawers when not in use.
Here's a link to some other cabinets made by The American Cabinet Company.

Anyway, I have always loved it, and thought I would eventually find a good spot for it.
And I was right!

In the new house it works very nicely in the entry way.

Here are some more "before" shots.

This is the best before shot I have, but it already has the hardware removed.

It had quite a few dings and scratches, and a couple of outright holes.

This is the back - the upper part has no backing - I considered putting a back on it, but since I was never going to look at it, I decided to leave it this way.  From this view, you can also see the remnants of the roll top that originally would have enclosed the top half of the cabinet.  This was in very bad shape, so I nailed it in the "up" position permanently.

The top was in the worst shape with the veneer all cracked and lifting off.  I ended up scraping it all off and then used a belt sander to smooth it out for paint.
I removed each drawer - there are 26 of them - and planed and sanded, etc until each one slid in and out with ease.
The prep work also included quite a lot of time cleaning.  It was VERY dirty, and moldy, and had a lot of black dust in the drawers.

I have been following a bunch of DIY, home decor and furniture rehab blogs, and had pinned some inspiration for how I wanted to finish it.  Here are a couple of my Pinterest pins...


So I was sure I wanted to use a dark blue or navy blue, and got some sample pots, and finally decided on Benjamin Moore's Hale Navy, and after priming the whole thing, got to work on the finish paint which took only 2 coats.

I painted the inside of the lower cabinet in glossy white.

On the day we moved it from the basement to the entryway, I donked my head, and used an ice pack to keep it from swelling up too much.  Dean got a big kick out of taking this photo and REALLY wanted me to use it in the blog!
Once we got it in place, we decided to cut out a small section at the back of one of the drawers, so that we would have clearance for a plug to access the electrical outlet behind the cabinet.

And I had the opportunity to learn how to use yet another wood working tool - the coping saw.

In this photo you can also see that I lined the drawers with fancy paper - It's really just wrapping paper in a pretty print.

The hardware is mostly original - there were a few knobs missing.  They were brass, and  I used a product called Rub N Buff, that I learned about from my DIY blogs, to re-finish the hardware.  It is a combination of paint and carnauba wax.  You paint it on - then buff it to get a nice metallic patina.  I used a mixture of the pewter and silver colors on my hardware.  I even used it on the 2 wooden replacement knobs on the lower doors, and there is no way that you can tell that they are not metal!
So finally here is the finished cabinet looking lovely in the entryway.




  1. Awesome-Cathy-I am So happy for you! Enjoy!
    Sue Brown

  2. I looked, for awhile, at this beautifully restored cabinet when I was visiting, but I didn't ask about it. Thanks for explaining the details of
    its restoration here.
    Yet another astonishing project done!!!!

  3. You are a rock star!!!!! Wow, what an amazing amount of work! Looks great!!!!!
    xxoo -P

  4. We're honored that you used one of our dressers for inspiration! The cabinet is beautiful!

  5. The cabinet is an excellent furniture find. The navy paint is just the perfect color!

  6. An impressive restoration job on a very nice piece of furniture. Well done!

  7. This is truly one of the BEST makeovers I've run across online. Lucky you to have such a great piece of furniture....and what a beautiful job you did on it! Certainly a heirloom piece now!