The Virtues of Denatured Alcohol

When we finished out the basement a few years ago, we needed two vanities for two bathrooms. One space really leant itself to a dresser converted into a vanity. This beautiful piece was found in the basement of an antiques shop for $37. It was missing a drawer, the top was damaged,  and the finish was like an alligator but the lines were amazing!


This photo shows the project already in progress. A carpenter made a false drawer and rebuilt the top three drawers to accommodate plumbing.


But where did the denatured alcohol come in? It was used to remove the alligator look, which admittedly some people like, as in said carpenter. With just a little effort, the alcohol dissolved the old finish, leaving the stain below. Then it was a matter of matching the old to the new and sealing it with polyurethane. The result was stunningly beautiful wood.


The second time denatured alcohol came to the rescue was when this dingy cabinet was screaming to be rescued at an antique collector’s yard sale. It was obvious that there was beautiful design underneath the finish and I had always admired European painted furniture.


So very carefully, the alcohol was used to remove the spent varnish, revealing surprisingly vivid colors. Admittedly, some of the paint came off too, and some varnish was stubborn, but it all added to the effect. 


So the lesson is, always look past the surface to what lies beneath.