Bathroom Vanity

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Project by Mark Kornell posted 10-20-2014 04:41 PM 2222 views 4 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

We’ve just moved into a new house and my wife decided that we need new bedroom furniture. I’m OK with that. But she also wants to convert the old dresser to a vanity for the guest bathroom. I’m OK with that, too.

There wouldn’t be a lot of woodworking to be done, mostly refinishing. One bit of work was to convert the middle drawer stack – which had curved fronts – to a flat-front, fake drawer and cabinet box/door arrangement.

She bought the old set from a reputable seller of higher-end furniture long before I met her. Solid (more or less) red oak, so I thought it would be a nice project.

I got it down to my shop and proceeded to deconstruct it. Here’s the before picture:

After removing the drawers and top, I discovered that it wasn’t really a “solid” wood carcase. The top was a solid wood lamination and the ends were frame and panel. But the rest of it was just a skeleton with a 1/4” hardboard back holding everything together. On top of that, it was held together by staples and screws. There was a little bit of glue visible in the frame and panel sides – something that looked like hot-melt glue. While an ounce of glue would have gone a long way, it made disassembly pretty easy.

15 minutes with some simple tools:

and I was left with a pile of sticks:

I stripped off the existing finish using a card scraper and sandpaper.

Removing the curve from the front rails was pretty easy. They were just screwed on! Added some wood filler to cover the exposed holes.

The vanity was going to have a quartz top, instead of wood. So I needed to add some additional bracing around the sink opening. Inlet half-lap dovetails:

Then I refinished. Easier to work on small parts.

The finishing schedule:
- Sand to 220
- Apply base stain, Saman Urban Grey #113
- Seal with shellac
- very light sand with 320
- Apply top stain, Old Masters Spanish Oak
- 2 coats lacquer, Valspar Valtec, satin
- light sand 320
- final coat of lacquer

Produces a warm, rich and deep grey tone.

Reassambly was quite easy. The existing joinery was reasonably tight mortise and tenons, so I put them back together, adding glue. Staples for reinforcement during cure. And re-screwed where the originals were.

Using melamine, I also added a partial box under the sink. It is a fairly tight space but I wanted to have something a bit water resistant to go under the plumbing.

Moved it into place:

The installers came with the top and my plumber added the sink:

And I also built a new door and fake drawer front to replace the middle drawer stack. The old top was solid oak so there was plenty of wood available. Well-dried and very stable by this point.

Probably need to add a pull to the fake drawer front. I’m not sold on the blank look.

-- Mark Kornell, Kornell Wood Design

11 comments so far

View RoadHogg's profile


124 posts in 1348 days

#1 posted 10-20-2014 04:48 PM

That’s beautiful, Mark! Nicely done!

-- "The difference between school and real life is that in real life the tests come first, and then the lessons" -- Robert Lang,

View CL810's profile


3405 posts in 2409 days

#2 posted 10-20-2014 04:52 PM

Mark that turned out really good. The finish looks amazing.

-- "The only limits to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today." - FDR

View CFrye's profile


8575 posts in 1261 days

#3 posted 10-20-2014 05:30 PM

Amazing what you find when you tear into a piece like this. It was fun to follow along. Looks great, Mark! Thanks for sharing.

-- God bless, Candy

View BigRedKnothead's profile (online now)


7873 posts in 1403 days

#4 posted 10-20-2014 08:06 PM

I don’t think you could have done any better with what you started with. Excellent job my friend.

-- "At the end of the day, try and make it beautiful....because the world is full of ugly." Konrad Sauer

View ShaneA's profile


6420 posts in 2019 days

#5 posted 10-20-2014 08:10 PM

agreed, this is an excellent project.

View Mean_Dean's profile


4939 posts in 2568 days

#6 posted 10-20-2014 11:59 PM

Looks even better looking at it the second time around!

-- Dean

View drewpy's profile


568 posts in 778 days

#7 posted 10-21-2014 04:21 AM

Great project and great work.

-- Drew in Ohio -- "The greatest wealth is health".

View isotope's profile


144 posts in 1045 days

#8 posted 10-21-2014 10:33 AM

You did a great job giving new life to that dresser. Also props to your wife for having the vision to see it in the first place. The final result looks amazing.

View RPhillips's profile


1110 posts in 1257 days

#9 posted 10-21-2014 01:12 PM

Amazing, absolutely beautiful.

-- Rob - Indianapolis IN - Learning... one mistake at a time...

View Mark Kornell's profile

Mark Kornell

1057 posts in 1952 days

#10 posted 11-11-2014 05:17 AM

Followup on this – I added a pull to the fake drawer under the sink, and I think it makes a big difference. Also got the mirror installed, just need to tile the backsplash (same as the detail strip showing in the shower) and we’ll be able to call the room complete.

-- Mark Kornell, Kornell Wood Design

View JHAstrello's profile


27 posts in 782 days

#11 posted 12-15-2014 10:20 PM

Looks spectacular!

-- John in E. Texas

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