DIY – Revamping an Old Hutch


I recently picked up an old hutch from Craigslist. The finish was worn and the top was splitting so it was a perfect candidate for a refresh and repurpose project.

My first step was to removing all of the hardware, doors, and drawers; filling holes where hardware would not be replaced; and sanding down all of the surfaces. Since I was going to be painting everything, I only needed to roughen the surface and smooth out the filled holes.

I was on the fence as to whether I would be replacing the top at this point, but after looking at the extent of the splitting (the top was starting to split into 3 pieces) and finding a good deal on a used butcher block, I decided to make the switch. I cut the butcher block down to size and mounted it to the top of the hutch with screws and wood glue. The butcher block was unfinished, so I lightly sanded it to remove some watermarks and raised edges, and gave it a few coats of mineral oil.

The following hurdle I faced was the removal of the felt lining from one of the drawers. I initially tried steaming and using a putty knife, but this was largely ineffective. I resorted to applying old-fashioned elbow grease, scraping most of the felt from the bottom and then sanding down the remaining green streaks. The proper tool for scraping would be a scraping card or scraping plane; however, I did not have one on-hand so I used the edge of a hatchet instead. Once I was content with the result and my arms were too tired, I sprayed the inside of the drawer with a thin coat of polyurethane.

Next came the primer and paint. Two coats of each left me with a good finish and even color. The matte finish of this paint tends to hide imperfections in the surface of the wood from previous scratches and streaky painting. The downside is that it can be harder to clean, but this was a tradeoff I was willing to accept.  Overall, this took about ¾ of a quart of primer and ½ of a quart of paint to finish the entire project.

My last step was to re-attach all of the hardware. I had originally planned to use the old hinges and just paint them, but last minute I opted to switch to a fully concealed hinge for a cleaner, more modern look. The final touches that remain are filling and painting over the holes from the old hinges, since I decided to go with new ones, and adding the drawer pulls.

-Drew Zdeblick, Mechanical Engineer

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