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surveyor’s cabinet makeover

So I found this antique surveyor’s cabinet on craigslist. I’ve never seen a cabinet like it before.

I love all the different sized drawers. The top drawers are letter drawers with dividers in the middle. The middle drawers are regular file drawers. The bottom section is a map cabinet.

The pulls on this piece are fantastic. They are bronze and have such beautiful patina.

The feet are another favorite part. They are iron. So very cool.

I also love that the name of the cabinet company is on the front. I wanted to keep that if at all possible.

There was plenty that I liked about this piece. The only thing that I really didn’t like was the color. Β The stain color was reminiscent of a 70’s picnic table. I had something else in mind for this beautiful cabinet.

The first step was to fix the 14 (yes, fourteen!) drawers that were in need of repair. Armed with Gorilla Wood Glue and some finishing nails and a hammer, I repaired them all.

The next step was sanding off all of the stain. Β This part took forty forevers. Not gonna lie. It was a big ole pain in the butt!

After sanding and cleaning, I gave the whole piece a coat of Howard’s Feed ‘n Wax. I was hoping to use Howard’s Restor-a-Finish afterwards but the color wasn’t dark enough.

So I went with my go-to Minwax “Dark Walnut” stain. Perfect.

Then I put the hardware back on. All 28 pieces. πŸ™‚

I love how the Dark Walnut gave the cabinet richness and warmth while still allowing the grain of the wood to show through.

I’m using this cabinet in my new studio (I’m converting the living area of our guest cottage into my new workspace) to store all of my stuff.

One more glance at the before and after…

Thanks for stopping by today!

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92 Comments Post a comment
  1. It looks amazing! It has such a warm tone to it now!

    September 13, 2011
  2. Vanessa #

    What a fantastic find and makeover! This is all your skill at one… put it at the curb with the blue side table! On my way! xo

    September 13, 2011
  3. ReaderWoman #

    Beautiful! My husband says this is a surveyor’s cabinet – the bottom did indeed hold maps and the other drawers held equipment. What a wonderful find!

    September 13, 2011
    • RW, thanks for clarifying that! It had been used in a lawyer’s office (some of their old papers were still in the drawers) but a surveyor’s cabinet makes more sense. I just changed it in my post. Tell your hubby thanks!

      September 13, 2011
    • ReaderWoman #

      πŸ™‚

      September 15, 2011
  4. Beautiful, unique cabinet!

    September 13, 2011
  5. That turned out so beautiful! I am impressed by all the sanding you did. (I hate to sand, but sometimes it’s just the only way to get to the beauty) I’m so glad you didn’t cover up the beautiful wood with paint. A lot of work, but the results are worth it! What a unique find.

    September 13, 2011
  6. So in love with this cabinet!! I’ve never seen anything like it, it’s truly an amazing piece and you did a great job with it!

    September 13, 2011
  7. FABULOUS piece…so very VERY versatile…swoon…

    September 13, 2011
  8. Whoa nelly…..that is some gorgeous work. You are so lucky to find pieces like this! Great job! I’m amazed.

    September 13, 2011
  9. OhHHHHHHhhhhhh MY GOODNESS I am SO SO SO SO in love with this! Ohhhhh boy oh boy. You are officially my idol. And I know it isn’t nice to be jealous but I am so so so jealous :o) and happy for you all at the same time! What a beautiful piece!!!
    Jaime from Crafty scrappy happy

    September 13, 2011
  10. Saw the pic on FB and had to come here and see all of the progress pics… it truly turned out fabulous! I am so glad that you kept it stained rather than painted it and that you kept the lovely worn patina on all of the hardware…. just a beautiful piece! πŸ™‚

    September 13, 2011
  11. mar paulson #

    Beautiful job! loved the finish.

    September 13, 2011
  12. Oh my goodness, that is a stunning transformation! I can see that it would have been back-breaking work but it was so worth it! Well done!

    Best wishes,
    Natasha.

    September 13, 2011
  13. Wow, I LOVE this makeover! You did a great job. And I have to say, it’s refreshing to see a piece that’s been restained and not painted white- don’t get me wrong, I love the painted furniture trend and am following it myself, but I love a little diversity- especially when something has such AMAZING potential! πŸ™‚

    September 14, 2011
  14. β™₯β™₯β™₯β™₯I’m in total LOVE β™₯β™₯β™₯β™₯β™₯
    I have no other words…except I want it. ☺

    September 14, 2011
  15. Love the new stain. It looks so fresh & healthy!

    September 14, 2011
  16. Susan J #

    love it!

    September 14, 2011
  17. Wow, what a great find. I envy your patience in all the work you did to fix and refinish this beauty.

    September 14, 2011
  18. This turned out so beautifully! I am completely envious! πŸ™‚

    September 14, 2011
  19. What an amazing piece. What wonderful storage it will make!

    September 14, 2011
  20. Lisa of Fern Creek Cottage sent me by ~ and am I glad she did! Amazing transformation! So much work, but totally worth it! Can’t wait to read more posts.
    :)Heidi

    September 14, 2011
  21. lenka #

    Wow ! I just love how all the architectural details popped out after you allowed the wood grain to be seen. I agree that you needed just a bit of the dark to come through.
    Another great project: gold star !
    PS. What kind of monster sander were you using? I see a big ole yellow something there in your photos?

    September 14, 2011
  22. I love it almost as much as I love the designer!

    September 14, 2011
  23. Ohhh, I love this! And, I’m so glad you didn’t paint it, for your redo. lol, It looks amazing now!
    Visiting from Savvy Southern Style link party.

    September 14, 2011
  24. Wow….such a beautiful, beautiful piece. Your fantastic restoration is to be admired!
    ~Pam
    pamspaintparlor.typepad.com

    September 14, 2011
  25. oh my goodness…. i am having a gut reaction to that piece. i LOVE it. it is awesome and the new rustic finish you gave it is perfection!

    September 14, 2011
  26. benita fox #

    What a great piece! Great job on the refinish also.

    September 14, 2011
  27. Absolutely gorgeous! I can totally empathize with you for the amount of time you spent sanding! It can be so exhausting. Great job… I am so envious. What an amazing and unique piece you found!

    September 15, 2011
  28. I can’t believe how patient you are to sand all of those drawers. But it was totally worth it! The piece is beautiful and it will be awesome to have in your new workroom!

    September 15, 2011
  29. It looks absolutely beautiful…you did a great job!!!

    September 15, 2011
  30. What a unique piece, love it! Also love the styling, the industrial light sits perfectly on the top! It was well worth all your hard work!

    September 15, 2011
  31. Dana #

    Absolutely in LOVE with this piece!

    Dana
    craftedniche.wordpress.com

    September 15, 2011
  32. you nailed it!!!
    I want it
    hahaha

    p.s.
    did you know we’re neighbors?

    September 15, 2011
  33. Wow! It’s gorgeous now! You did a great job! Quite the reward for all you hard work. πŸ™‚ ~Rachel

    September 15, 2011
  34. Great job with this! It looks amazing! I’ve never seen a cabinet like that, either…so cool!

    September 15, 2011
  35. I love this piece, and you gave it the perfect touch. Great finish.

    September 15, 2011
  36. I am sooo jealous! I love that cabinet and you did an amazing job!!! πŸ™‚

    September 16, 2011
  37. Found your link over at Miss Mustard Seed and had to check this out. Never seen one of these, but it is so cool! Definitely a labor of love, but so worth it!

    September 16, 2011
  38. I’m so in love – you’ve done a beautiful job refinishing it. I love furniture with lots of drawers…I’m desparately in search of an old bean and seed counter to use as our kitchen island…but all the ones I’ve found so far are way too $$ for my budget. I did get an old work bench with drawers at an auction for $75, but I haven’t had a chance to refinish it yet..it lived in a barn for decades and needs some serious love. thank you so much for sharing this – definite inspiration material!

    September 16, 2011
  39. What a wonderful piece! And you made it beautiful. Love it!
    -Revi

    September 16, 2011
  40. LOVE it!! You did it right!

    September 16, 2011
  41. I love this! I am a huge sucker for antiques. Beautiful job. Thanks for sharing. I would love for you to share it on my link party at cookienut.blogspot.com

    September 16, 2011
  42. Jen #

    This is FANTASTIC! I wish I could come across something this great (that is in my budget). Thanks for sharing! I’m going to feature it today!
    Jen
    Scissors & Spatulas

    September 16, 2011
  43. Jen #

    One more thing. Where did you get the lamp? Is it from PB? I’m looking for one exactly like it for my craft table. So far PB is the only one I’ve found and I’m too frugal (sounds better than cheap) to spend that much. Have a great weekend!
    Jen
    Scissors & Spatulas

    September 16, 2011
    • Hi Jen, it is the one from PB…but it was on final sale because they had too many or something? That’s the only reason I got it. I have seen some really similar ones at HomeGoods though! Thanks for the feature. Have a wonderful weekend.

      September 16, 2011
  44. Leigh Anne #

    Just lovely!

    September 16, 2011
  45. WOW! If I was a Pottery Barn person-in-charge I’d be all over this design and get it into production! You did a beautiful job, way to push through the hard work! If I were a bettin’ woman I’d put my $ on this catchin MMS’s eye as a FAVORITE (said in falsetto;) !!!!

    Love. It.

    September 16, 2011
  46. LOVE THIS CABINET. YOU DID A FABULOUS JOB IT LOOKS LIKE ITS RIPPED FROM A MAGAZINE.LOVE IT

    September 16, 2011
  47. This looks to be about 80 to 100 years old. Google the cabinet company, that should give you more info.

    September 16, 2011
    • I looked around a bit. This looks like it is a document cabinet. Does it come apart in sections?

      September 16, 2011
  48. Love the way this turned out! Saw it on MMS and loved it. Great work.

    September 17, 2011
  49. Pam #

    You are my hero. I love that you did not just slap paint on it. I love the warmth of that piece. Gorgeous!

    September 17, 2011
  50. Your cabinet is absolutely beautiful! Love it! Can’t wait to read more of your blog posts.

    September 17, 2011
  51. You did such an amazing job transforming it without ruining the beauty of its age. I’m obsessed with any piece of furniture that has multiple little drawers, but this one is beyond gorgeous! I’m new to your blog – I’m going to have a great time looking around. Thanks for sharing such a beautiful before and after!

    September 18, 2011
  52. What a cool cabinet! I would have snapped that one up too; love it!

    September 19, 2011
  53. This is so great! I love it! Thanks for sharing it with {Re}creation Into Something New Wednesdays at Not So Simple Housewife! Hope to see more from you this upcoming Wednesday!

    Kaitlin-The Not So Simple Housewife
    http://notsosimplehousewife.blogspot.com/

    September 19, 2011
  54. Its just gorgeous! I dream of owning a piece like this! karen…

    September 19, 2011
  55. very amazing!!! love it!!!

    September 20, 2011
  56. its like magic!!! You really give me ideas.
    Hey, just a suggestion, could you write an explanation about wood finishing?? Like when should we use wax, when to use paint, etc, and the example result for different finishing. I think you’re the expert on it πŸ™‚

    September 20, 2011
  57. Gorgeous!!! I definitely appreciate how much effort went into this piece–sanding and finishing is hard, tedious work!

    Thanks for sharing!

    September 20, 2011
  58. Amazing! What a great find and great work!

    September 20, 2011
  59. Wow, I am ahhhed and amazed. I have never seen anything like it before either! What an amazing find on Craig’s list. You did such a beautiful job restoring it. It is just heavenly to look at, it is so beautiful! Great work. -K (visiting from Restore Interiors)

    September 20, 2011
  60. This is STUNNING! I’m blown away.

    September 21, 2011
  61. this is a beautiful, well crafted piece of old furniture and it has thrived under your loving care. It seems like whenever I happen to pop in over here at your blog I find something new and utterly thrilling! Wonderful job, and the result seems to be worth the forty forevers. πŸ™‚

    September 21, 2011
  62. Wow! This is gorgeous. I love it and everything on it. I once saw one of these at Salvation Army with a sold tag. They were asking about $300.

    September 21, 2011
  63. This is the prettiest piece of furniture I have ever seen. It is sooo cool and you did the best job ever giving it new life.

    September 22, 2011
  64. You did an amazing job! That piece is just beautiful, love the darker stain on it. Your vingette on the top looks wonderful also. I just found your blog and love it!
    Debbie

    September 22, 2011
  65. Awesome cabinet and makeover! You did a fantastic job!

    September 22, 2011
  66. MARY EGUIA #

    Completely JEALOUS!!!!!!!!!!! I WANT ONE.
    Mary
    RENONFL@YAHOO.COM

    September 23, 2011
  67. I am completely AMAZED at the transformation. You really really did a fantastic job!

    September 23, 2011
  68. Starla #

    Crazy amazing! Found you on MMS – you did an incredible job! Enjoy the fruit of your serious labor! πŸ™‚

    September 23, 2011
  69. Wow! Magnificent!

    September 23, 2011
  70. jane #

    That cabinet is absolutely GORGEOUS!!! I’ve never seen one like that before!! You did a GREAT JOB!

    September 23, 2011
  71. Boy am I jealous… I know that’s not nice but can’t help myself. I want one.

    September 23, 2011
  72. Is outstanding! Congratulations

    September 23, 2011
  73. WOW! this is absolutely GORGeous! nice work on the refinishing and choosing the perfect finish. LOVE the iron feet, how cool is that?!
    does stain work overtop a wax as you mentioned you used feed n wax first?
    i’m following…you have some great projects and a farmhouse…girl after my own heart
    judi
    the1829farmhouse.blogspot.com

    September 24, 2011
    • Hi Judi, yes stain goes right over the feed n wax. Usually, though, if I KNOW I’m going to be staining a piece…I use Minwax pre-stain conditioner. I’m off to check out your blog! πŸ™‚

      September 24, 2011
  74. Kristen #

    That piece looks AMAZING! So jealous of your find.

    September 25, 2011
  75. I love this piece! What a great job you did! I’m impressed! Found your blog from MMS. I’m a new follower!

    September 25, 2011
  76. What a beautiful transformation. Your hard work certainly paid off. You have staged it so beautifully, it looks like it’s right from the pages of a magazine. I’m so glad you put the before and after photos at the end. I kept scrolling up and down to try to compare. Blessings, Kim

    September 25, 2011
  77. Absolutely the best makeover I’ve ever seen! Hard work I bet, but wow…what a pay off. It’s gorgeous!

    September 29, 2011
  78. kat #

    Wow! I am so envious of your find!! found you via pinterest

    January 17, 2012

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