Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Card Catalog

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One of my favorite things is to reinvent old furniture....

 I scour garage sales, thrift stores, flea markets, craigslist and antique stores in search of a piece that "speaks to me." I look for dove tailed drawers, solid wood, detailing, uniqueness, and as a sleep deprived mom of three, I don't deny that some of the pieces do talk. Sometimes I have a space in my home in mind that I'm looking to fill, but usually if I find something I like, I will find room (mu ha ha).
A local three story antique store was going out of business a couple years ago and I found myself in the basement in front of a card catalog from UNR. My love for organization went pitter patter as I thought of it in use in my art room. 72 drawers of pure organization with spots for labels no doubt.....a wet dream for someone with ocd.
The current stain was an ugly shiny orange finish. Never mind that, this piece was coming home with me. I figured I'd leave it as is for a while, live with it in place and start enjoying it's function right away. But then the thought of taking everything back out of it when I did want to refinish it sounded like a nightmare. It was a do it now or never kind of deal and so this became my week long project. Seventy two drawers of hardware to remove was enough of a project for day number one. Let me tell you I had drawers everywhere....boxes of them. Next, bring out the power sanding tools and stylish protective eye-ware. I also removed the metal frame it had for legs, replacing it with small castors. This lowered it down a good 18 inches. The entire thing received two coats of dark brown stain. The varying color result of each finished drawer brings the piece character. Before each of the three coats of polyurethane I hand sanded using (very fine) 220 grit sand paper. I admit that I usually like to skip steps in search of an earlier completion but this time I had visions of a fine piece of furniture and I wanted to do it right. I still like to run my hands across the smooth finish of this piece.

The metal leg structure in front of the catalog was the original legs.

casters replace the original legs

The bottom metal circle of each drawer is the handle of a long stick that used to hold the cards. It is easily removed to make more space in the drawer. These drawers are towards the bottom. I labeled them using pictures to help my kids organize their art supplies.

My 72 drawer art and office supply cabinet

Apparently the antiques store had about ten of these card catalogs. I'm glad there was only one when I found it or I know I would have been tempted. I found it funny that when I showed the final piece to our 17 year old babysitter I had to explain the original function of a card catalog. I guess I'm getting old. ;-)

card catalog renovation

Extra metal sticks from the cabinet are now displayed in a vase.


  1. Awesome job!!!! I have been wanting one of these babies for ever now!! I came across a city auction and bid on it and won! I cant wait to go get it next week! I think mine is in 3 sections, if it is, I plan on building two stands for it and making an end table and a coffee table out of them!!! I cant wait!!!

  2. That sounds like a fun project! I'd be interested in what time of stand you think you might build. I would love to see pictures when you are finished.

  3. Holy cow, it's amazing! I'd love to find one of those. My husbad is a desgner so he'd love it too.

    Yours looks great - what a nice piece :-)

  4. You know that was supposed to be husband :-)

  5. This is amazing! I'm on the hunt for one for my scrapbook room. Have no idea where I would put it but with my love of book and all things scrapbook I'll find one. Let me know if you ever hear of one in NC!


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