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DIY Upcycling Home Projects

DSCN1555Refurbishing, restoring, and upcycling your furniture can be creative, fun and leave you with an exhilarating feeling that you did it yourself with just about any piece of wooden furniture you may own.  What better time to give your furniture and other home items a new refreshing look.  Amaze your friends this holiday season or anytime with a home makeover that will leave you with the question, “Why did I wait so long?”


Let us help you with an idea from our product team (click on all photos to enlarge).  Kent, our finishing expert and Ben, our turning and overall woodworking guru, started with this 70′s-looking entertainment center, purchasing it at a local Habitat for Humanity store.





They removed all the doors, hardware, and sanded the surfaces of all 4 doors.  Next, they used a Mirlon Nonwoven Total Scuff Sanding Pad from Woodcraft, followed by a good cleaning with General Finishes Furniture Cleaner which removes any previous wax that may have been applied.  This is a strong, heavy duty cleaner with a mineral spirits base, designed for serious cleaning applications.

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Ben applied 3 coats of General Finishes Java Gel Stain, Item #826979 to the 2 bottom doors. Once dried, 2 coats of General Finishes Polyacrylic Semi-Gloss Top Coat, Item #817746 was applied.  The photo below gives a good idea of a before and after comparison.

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As an option with the Java Gel Stain; you can apply it, and then wipe it off allowing the stain to accentuate the grain if desired.


The upper doors were given a makeover and it was decided to add textured glass to the top doors. This was done by routing along the inside of the door panel, creating a frame to remove the center wood section and replace with the glass.  Rounding the internal corners with a chisel allows for easy clearance for textured glass assembly.


Once the center section was removed the now framed-door was sanded.  Old handle and hinge holes were plugged with dowels for modern style single knob handles and hinges that would be added later during final assembly.  All holes would be covered with the Java Gel stain and top coat hiding all traces of previous hardware.


The plugged holes were Nexabond glued and the door was sanded one final time for the General Finishes Java Gel to be applied. Glass was ordered from a local supply house and added to the framed doors.

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Ben sealed the glass around the perimeter of the frame with clear silicone caulking adhesive and used his finger with some added water to even out the seal.

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Ben sanded the main unit using the Mirka Ceros 5″ Compact Electronic Random Orbital Sander, Woodcraft Item #849396, which was hooked up to the Festool Dust Extractor.  A sacrificial template was pinned to the shelf to create the exact hole diameter with correct placement for new cord grommets using a hole saw.


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The interior was refurbished with 2 coats of General Finishes Dark Chocolate Milk Paint Pint, Woodcraft Item #857886, mmm,mmm good!  Ben commented, 1 coat was enough and I used milk paint because I was not as concerned about showing the internal grain.  


The exterior was completed with 3 coats of General Finishes Java Gel Stainand 2 coats of General Finishes Polyacrylic Semi-Gloss Top Coat.  Holes were drilled for the new silver satin finish hinges, and assembled to the unit along with the new cord grommets.  Kent and Ben team up for the sub-assembled wood framed glass doors to the main unit.


Knob handle locations were accurately measured, then drilled with a sacrificial blank behind the door for tear-out protection. Note the exterior bump in the satin silver knob, pictured right.  As the screw is tightened, the knob is defined in placement into the wood by an exterior design bump for secure assembly.


The entertainment center is completely renovated with a fresh modern look.


Let’s take a look at the upcycled cost:

Original cabinet- $75
Glass panels- $86
New hardware, Hinges & Handles- $25
General Finishes Java Gel-$20
General Finishes Polyacrylic Top Coat- $24
Grommets- $3.19
Scuff Pads- $6.59
Foam Brushes, 10pk- $6.50
Mirka Abranet 5″ Sanding Assortment, 35 pack, Item #840644- $30
Nexabond Adhesive-$16.50
Clear Silicone Caulking Adhesive- $3.50
Total- $296.28
Approximate resale value- $500-$600

Project time- 4 to 7 days depending on drying time in your environment.

The pride in doing a quality DIY professional project… Beyond Priceless!

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View this video for additional information on how to use Java Gel and upcycle your cabinets,

Make a difference and go above the scale of 1-10.
Be an 11, use your imagination and create a new look today.
See you at the next Woodworking Adventure!
auf Wiedersehen!…Frank

Add a comment

Comments (21)

  1. avatar
    j, December 16, 2013
    i dont think thats the same cabinet look at it that it 2 differnt ones lol Reply
    • avatar
      frank, December 16, 2013
      It is indeed the same cabinet. The blog article shows the step by step process. Reply
  2. avatar
    Chris, January 18, 2014
    Fantastic job! Just wondering, how would you describe the color.... Dark chocolate brown or espresso - blackish color? I want to re-do my old oak bathroom vanity. Prefer on the black tone stain. Thank you. Reply
    • avatar
      frank, January 18, 2014
      The color is definitely dark with a deep brown pantone. I would not necessarily state it as a black-ish color. If you want more of a black color, you could add a transtint black dye powder or liquid to it, or use General Finishes black milk paint, followed by a flat, satin or gloss clear top coat. Reply
  3. avatar
    Janice, February 16, 2014
    Do you have to sand the piece you are going to use? I purchased an old dresser not much (if any) finish on it. It is an light oak color which gel would I use for a deep brown that still lets the grain show? Reply
    • avatar
      frank, February 18, 2014
      Yes sanding the project down will allow for better penetration of the JAVA Gel by General Finishes, and it will allow the grain to show through. There are many other shades of finish to choose from. Check them out HERE. Reply
  4. avatar
    Michelle, February 23, 2014
    To the person that questioned if this was the same piece…yes, I can tell it is, just updated very nicely. I was wondering if you guys wiped off the gel stain after applying? I have read different things about wiping it off after applying, lightly sanding in between, etc. I am finding better results NOT wiping it off or sanding, I was wondering what your thoughts were on this. Your cabinet is fantastic. The glass completely brought this piece into a new era. Fantastic job, guys! Reply
    • avatar
      frank, February 24, 2014
      We did not wipe off the gel stain in this project. It is an option however for a different look that highlights the grain if wiped off. You may choose to lightly sand in between, but depends on the look you are after. Try it different ways until you get the results you are looking for. Thanks for your kind words, the project definitely gave an updated look to a 70's looking cabinet. Reply
  5. avatar
    alan, May 16, 2014
    cabinets look great. Do you guys have a youtube video on this? Reply
    • avatar
      frank, May 19, 2014
      Not on this particular cabinet, however we do have a video that shows you how to use and upcycle your kitchen cabinets with the Java Gel Stain. Click HERE to obtain that information.I will add this video link inside the blog for viewing too! Thanks for tuning into our blog site. Reply
  6. avatar
    www.youtube.com, June 10, 2014
    My spouse and I stumbled over here different page and thought I might as well check things out. I like what I see so i am just following you. Look forward to going over your web page repeatedly. Reply
  7. avatar
    Carrie Ruiz, June 23, 2014
    I am planning to tackle my kitchen. I do not want the oak grain to show through. What do you suggest is the best way to apply? Reply
    • avatar
      frank, June 23, 2014
      Add a coat of Bulls Eye Sealer first before painting with Milk Paint or other stain color product. Click HERE. Reply
  8. avatar
    Lauren, February 7, 2015
    this may be a woodworkers worse nightmare and question but I have a large piece of furniture just like this one and it's way to large for my liking and needs now..I was wondering if there is any way I can successfull make this one large piece into two pieces of furniture? I looked at where I would want to cut it down and it looks doable but not sure if I should even attempt a project like that? I do have a picture of you need to see what I mean Reply
    • avatar
      Frank, February 8, 2015
      Please forward a photo to blog.woodcraft.com email, thank you. Reply
  9. avatar
    Christina, April 30, 2015
    So sealer before gel stain to conceal grain better, and stain will stain adhere? Why not just use the milk paint then, is it the color difference or coverage/texture? I'm trying to decide between gel stain or milk paint dark chocolate for our bathroom cabinets that are really bad. Reply
    • avatar
      Frank, April 30, 2015
      Yes the sealer adheres to anything. Gel stains and milk paints have not only different colors but leave two different looks depending upon what you want your project to look like. Compare the offerings to see which you prefer or try both on scraps pieces of wood before tackling the main projects. In the entertainment unit we used java gel stain and top coat on the outside, and dark chocolate milk paint for the interior (behind the doors once opened) to give it a flatter appearance. Reply
      • avatar
        Christina, April 30, 2015
        Nice! I'm so glad I found this page! I was about to go the milk paint route but I'm thinking I prefer the java stain finish and it's coloring looks richer. The big draw on the milk paint for me was no sanding, but maybe the gel stain would work with a liquid sandpaper product....decisions Reply
        • avatar
          Frank, April 30, 2015
          You may still want to do a light sanding on all surfaces so as to be sure in removing any details for a smoother application/finish. Liquid sandpaper is toxic and highly volatile in nature. We do not carry it. It is dangerous when inhaled and must be kept away from direct contact with the body. It is vital to use it in well ventilated areas. Liquid sandpaper does not smooth bumps or uneven surfaces like sandpaper. Reply
          • avatar
            Christina, April 30, 2015
            Thanks Frank, will be busting out the sand paper.
        • avatar
          Frank, April 30, 2015
          Try using our product called Abranet, it lasts much longer, doesn't gum up and you can tap it against the workbench to clear the pores of the abranet. Great product over sandpaper and it comes in low to high grit. Reply

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