Empire Wine Bar

 A few months ago my wife bought a dresser from a local auction company. When we picked it up, we noticed that the bottom drawer was so badly damaged that is was not worth repairing. Plus the drawers were only 10″ deep which doesn’t really fit with today’s needs. So, we decided that we would turn it into a wine cabinet.

The first thing I needed to do was take out the drawers and remove the frame that held them. It was a pretty easy process as the drawer runners were simply screwed in place.

I knew the part that held the wine bottles would need a cabinet of some sort so I glued 1/4″ panels to the inside to create a box. I also had to add boards to the bottom of the cabinet to support the bottom of the interior.

After much thought about how many wine bottles I wanted the cabinet to hold, I drew numerous options of the interior. I wanted the grids to go at 45 degrees and hold the maximum amount of bottles yet fit the opening of the cabinet. At first I designed the cabinet opening to hold nothing but wine bottles but after several drawings, I finally decided to make one half hold wine bottles with 4 1/2″ openings and the other half a shelf.

I built a divider down the middle and attached it with pocket hole screws. I installed plugs in the pocket holes and sanded them flush.

The fun part was making the grids. I made them from 3/4″ poplar and custom fitted each piece inside the box. The grids are attached together with dado’s and were painted brown before they were glued in.

I kept the girds shy of the face of the cabinet so that I could glue sapele on top of the poplar. Sapele is a poor mans mahogany which is what the dresser was made from. When stained, the sapele, mahogany and the painted poplar will blend together nicely.

After the interior was done, my wife painted the outside with chalk paint. She took the time to tape off the area that is stained and applied two coats of paint. After the paint dried, she rubbed some of it off to distress it, then added a dark brown glaze over the details of the piece to get in the cracks and appear old.

I applied four coats of General Finishes Arm-R-Seal oil & urathane topcoat to the top, the front of the drawers, and the grids to give the cabinet a nice sheen. We dragged it upstairs from the basement which was a big pain in the ass as it weighs nearly 200 lbs and decorated it in our dining room.

You can see how the distressing looks. The idea is to make the cabinet look old which is exactly what it is. After the glaze dries, Anita applied a light wax over the piece to protect the paint.

The design of the inside of the cabinet came out well. The grids hold eight bottles of wine and all of our various glasses. So far one of the drawers stores our wine bottle opener. Unfortunately, the other drawer will probably end up as a junk drawer.

The Empire dresser spent its first 150 years as a dresser. Now it will spend the next 150 years as a wine cabinet. Not a bad 300 year life if you ask me.

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