Refurbishing the Drawer
Before you can repurpose an old drawer, determine if it needs to be fixed up in any way. If not, leave it as it is. If it does, fix anything that is wrong with it. Tighten the handle and nail loose boards back into place. Ask yourself if the drawer will need to be on wheels. If so, purchase wheels and attach them to the underside corners with a screwdriver. And look for environmentally friendly products for stripping and refinishing the drawer.
Biodegradable paint strippers are available and do a good job of taking old paint off wood. They vary in the time the product will take to work, from 5 minutes to a few days. The more time consuming strippers are generally soy-based, and they are safe. Time restraints will be an indicating factor when deciding on which product to go with.
Use a disposable brush to apply the paint stripper to the drawer and read the package directions to determine how long it should be loft on. According to the DIY Network, applying a second coat just before stripping is helpful because it softens the other coat and the paint. Once you have removed most of the old paint, use a stripper pad to take the rest off.
When the stripping process is complete, use sandpaper to smooth out sharp corners and sand down splintering areas. This process should not take long. At this point, you can either leave the drawer unfinished or use a stain or some paint to decorate it.
When staining the old drawer, use a product made from beeswax, being sure there is some pigment to it. The pigment is what protects the drawer from ultraviolet rays. A clear sealant is fine if the drawer will not be used in an area that gets a lot of sun.
Zero VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) paints offer nice color choices for use when painting the old drawers. They come in a variety of colors, including earth tones. Look for a durable paint that will provide you with long-lasting color.
Apply the stain or paint with a brush, and allow the medium to dry thoroughly. If desired, apply a second coat once the first is dry. Let the drawer dry again.
Decorations may be used whether leaving the drawer unfinished, or after staining or painting. You may wish to use pre-purchased rub-on decals, which are applied by placing the design on the desired area of the drawer and rubbing the paper with an craft stick. Shaped sponges dipped in paint will allow you to create interesting decorations, as will stencils which require assorted paint colors and brushes. Again, allow to dry before using the drawer.