See how you can easily and inexpensively get the look of an antique card catalog with this Wood Dresser Card Catalog IKEA Hack Tutorial.
Hey, there! This IKEA Tarva Hack is actually an older project, but I recently updated the piece with paint and hardware and I realized I never shared the original tutorial here. So today I will walk you through the process of how I transformed a humble wood dresser into a lovely faux card catalog. You can catch Part 2 (the paint spraying) here.
I have long dreamed of owning an antique card catalog. Unfortunately, people in the Boston area on Craigslist seem to know what they have. They are almost always over $1000, even for a small and damaged piece.
Source: IKEA USA
The IKEA Tarva unfinished dresser is much closer to my budget at $80. While it doesn’t look like much, after contemplating the photo, I realized that it would be possible to create the look for a fraction of the price using mostly items I already had on hand.
Wood Dresser Card Catalog IKEA Hack Tutorial
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Time: approx. 3 hours including assembly (with drying times in between)
Tools & Materials:
IKEA Tarva Dresser (Note: IKEA has recently discontinued the Tarva, but you can also get similar results with the Rast.)
3/8″ roundnose router bit
100 grit sandpaper
220 grit sandpaper
compound miter saw
Minwax Dark Walnut
label drawer pulls
I ordered the Tarva and assembled it as soon as it arrived. This was by far the most time-consuming part of the whole process. I followed the instructions through the end, even though I knew I would be taking some parts back off, and assembled the entire dresser.
When it came time to do the finish work, I unlocked the cam lock screws and removed the drawer faces.
I also removed the legs, since they would need to be cut shorter to be hidden by the baseboard trim I planned to install.
It’s very common to find newer furniture that appears to have many small drawers, but they are actually solid doors or larger drawers. One example is this cabinet. This was the method I decided to go with for this project. I opted to use the router to add evenly spaced grooves to the existing drawer fronts. We measured out two evenly spaced areas to add the groove, then used a 3/8″ roundnose router bit and router table to add the detail grooves.
TIP: Make sure to do a test run with a spare board and the router to confirm your measurements.
After I finished routing, I broke the sharp edge with 100 grit sandpaper using my orbital sander to match the original bevel around the drawer edges. Then I went over the entire face with 220 grit sandpaper.
I trimmed down the dresser legs and reattached them to the dresser. I planned to add 3.5″ base trim, and the legs would have shown beneath the trim otherwise.
Next, we cut the base trim to length and at a 45-degree angle with the compound miter saw.
We glued and nailed the trim to the bottom of the dresser using our nail gun. I filled the nail holes and allowed the wood filler to dry.
After the wood filler was dry, I sanded down the whole dresser with 220 grit sandpaper again. I started by staining the base trim with Minwax Dark Walnut. We suspected from the sanding that the trim was softer and would absorb the stain differently, and that proved to be correct. I ultimately ended up adding a second coat to the bottom trim.
For the next step, I wanted the groove details to appear darker. I added the stain first, allowed it to sit, and then stained the rest of the drawer front.
I didn’t allow the stain to sink in for very long before wiping it away, and I only did one coat. I wanted a lot of the grain to show through.
This was the end result of phase one. The card catalog was a dark-stained fixture with cup pulls in our living room for a couple of years and made many appearances in seasonal home tours. I loved it, but when we got rid of the old carpet and installed hardwoods through the first floor, I moved the catalog to our foyer. I just wasn’t loving all of the different stain colors, so I painted it and sanded the edges to give allow the stain to show through in places.
I also installed the label drawer pulls. This is what truly gave the piece a “card catalog” appearance. Although they cost more than the dresser itself, they were the perfect finishing touch! I topped my newly white card catalog with my DIY Barn Window Mirror and these candlesticks, and it now houses all of my other candles and table linens. It has set the tone for the rest of our foyer transformation, which we will probably tackle this summer or fall.
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