I think it’s safe to say we’ve all seen a dresser that looks like this at the thrift store, craigslist, or yard sales. It’s that token chunky dresser with the orangey wood-tone, 90’s hardware, and dated decorative carving in furniture.
*This post contains affiliate links*
I’m a big proponent of rescuing dilapidated and/or ugly furniture and giving it new life, as evidenced by our extensive furniture archives. And this one is no exception! This makeover is actually very old news here on the blog (original makeover here). However, we’ve been getting several reader questions about how to fill those out-of-style decorative inlays or ‘carve-outs’ to make it a flat/smooth surface. So I’m going to spill my tips for you today!
How to fill decorative carvings in furniture
- High Performance Wood Filler (we recommend this one)
- Putty Knife
- Sanding Block
- Sandpaper in a variety of grits
- Latex Gloves (or other material)
Start by cleaning out any crud that may have built-up in the crevices over the years. Soapy water and an old toothbrush should do the trick. We also sanded down the entire dresser in preparation for painting, but you can save that step for after the carvings are filled. When you’re done cleaning out the gunk, wait until it’s completely dry. Start preparing your wood putty per the package instructions. Begin pressing the putty into the carvings.
Use your putty knife to scrape off the overflow of wood putty and create a smooth surface.
You may find that you need to go back and apply more wood putty in certain places and repeat the putty knife scraping until you have a fully filled and smooth surface.
Now it’s time to sand! Start with a heavy grit sandpaper (like 100 or less) and slap it onto your sanding block. This will aggressively remove excess wood putty and give you a fairly smooth surface. But in order to prepare it for painting, you’ll want to sand with a medium grit (like 150). And then finish off with a low grit (220) to make it SO SMOOTH and ready to be painted!
After you prime (use this stuff!) and paint, you’ll never even know that all those drawers had gaudy carvings in them!!
You’ll have to click over to this post to see the process and tutorial for how I paint this flower onto the dresser (it’s for a changing table in a little girl’s nursery!). This painting technique is easier than it looks! I promise!
Would you believe that’s the same hardware? I just sanded, primed, and painted them (make sure you use oil-based spray primer and spray paint for ultimate durability). And now they look so much more current!
Be sure to check out all the other furniture makeovers we’ve done by clicking the image below!
Thanks for pinning!