How To Update Brass Drawer Pulls

by Diane Henkler on 08/06/2012

Whew!!!   I had every intention of posting this on Friday, but since leaving last Wednesday to help my daughter Kelly move into her new place in upstate New York I have had no Internet access.  2 days of action-packed hard work and then a weekend of fun with my youngest, Mandy, on Lake Champlain in Vermont provided a nice mini-vacation.  We ate lots of delicious fresh food, kayaked, swam, and explored the Champlain Islands.  It was a fabulous mini-vacation and I will share some photos later in the week.

You may remember that last week I was in the midst of a painting marathon.  One of the hand-me-down items that I transformed for Kelly last week was a dresser. It was in good shape, but she wanted it to be fresh and modern. I will post how I painted it in an upcoming post.

Now I want to show you the real star of the makeover – the brass drawer pull transformation.  The old brass hardware worked perfectly, but just was not the style my daughter wanted.

Drawer Pull makeover

They were originally classic brass Chippendale style pulls.

Before and After Furniture transformations

Kelly wanted something unique and different.  I thought about just buying new pulls, but that would have been too costly.  On a trip down Michaels clearance aisle I came upon these napkins and got an idea.

Before and After Furntiure Transformations

I have been wanting to try out the acrylic resin product, EnviroTex Lite and figured since the napkins would have to be totally protected if they were to successfully cover the pulls – napkin covered drawer pulls would be the perfect small project to try it out on.

They came out better than I imagined.

Before and After Furniture Transformations

Furniture brass drawer pull makeover

 

 

Step-by-Step-Instructions-2

 

 

Supplies Needed:

Drawer pulls
Napkins or gift wrap
EnviroTex Lite  Pour-On High Gloss Finish – sold at craft stores. It comes in many different size bottles.  To cover the 14 pulls I used less than 8 ounces of the product. 
Spray adhesive
Scissors
Toothpicks
Wood or foam blocks
Optional: White spray paint
 

Figuring out how to cover the pulls took some trial and error, but I found these steps were the best way.

Dresser-brass drawer-pulls--before makeover

1.  Clean and line up pulls to spray paint.  Wedge a toothpick into one side of the handle so it stays up while you spray paint.  I laid mine on a piece of dollar store foam board so I could spray them outside and then easily bring them inside to dry.

Note: since the napkins are very thin I decided to paint the pulls first as you could see the brass color through the napkins when the napkins were applied.  Painting the pulls white removes the brass color cast as well as coordinates the color of the handle with the napkin.  If you are using more opaque paper and like the brass handles  – there is no need to paint the pulls first.

Painted Brass drawer pulls

2. Let dry and then spray another light coat to make sure you have all sides of the handle covered.  Let dry.

How to transform a drawer pull with a napkin

3. Lay the pull on the back of the paper napkin. Make sure the napkin design is centered on the drawer pull. If your napkin is two-ply remove the back piece so the napkin is only one thickness.

Before and AFter Furntiure Transformations

4.  Cut two lines in the napkin.  The width between the two ball joints that hold the handle was the width I used.

Furniture Makeovers

5. The cuts should fall along the inside of each ball joint.  It does not have to be perfect.  Lay the cut napkin over the pull to make sure you have a good fit and the design is centered.

Furniture Makeover Ideas

6. Remove the napkin and lay it upside down on a drop cloth or work surface and spray the back very, very, lightly with spray adhesive. Let it dry so it is not super tacky.  If you try to apply it to the pull right away – it is too hard to center without the napkin sticking to the pull in the wrong position.  Wait about 10 minutes and then attach the napkin.  Less glue and a little bit of tackiness is all that is needed.

How to update a brass drawer pull

7. Gently use your fingers to smooth the napkin over the front of the drawer pull, lining up the center and cuts around the handle. It is OK to cut the napkin to fit around the ball joints and overlap the napkin slightly to cover.

8.  Cut slits into the excess napkin that surrounds the pull to make tabs that will fold over to the back of the pull.   The cuts will stop right against the edge of the pull.

Hoe to update a brass drawer knob

9.  Fold over the tabs to the back of the pull and use your fingers to smooth. The tackiness from the spray glue will help it stick.   If there an area  is overlapping – try to smooth it out so that the back will still be flush when mounted on furniture.

Napkin-covered-drawer-pull

10.  Turn the pull over and smooth the front again with your fingers. If there are any areas that are not covered just cut a small piece of the napkin and apply glue to the back and lay it right over top of the napkin.  Most imperfections will be lessened once you cover it with the EnviroTex Lite.

napkin-covered-drawer pull makeover

Once all the pulls are covered  – it is time to apply the EnviroTex Lite.

EnviroTex Lite

Cabinet knob makeovers

-Each pull needs to be placed on a block so the EnviroTex Lite can run off it.  I used foam, but some of it stuck to the back when the resin was dry and I needed sand paper to remove it. It was not hard to remove, but one extra step.  Use little blocks of wood or wax/plastic wrap covered foam blocks so the pulls can easily be removed from the blocks when they are dry.  ( Lyn – a reader left a comment saying that sugar cubes make perfect blocks to place the handles on – Thanks Lyn for that great tip)

-Place a toothpick into one or both of the ball joints so the handle will stay up. Make sure the toothpicks are angled up and not touching the sides of the pulls.

Important Note:  When applying the EnviroTex Lite around the two ball joints that hold the handle – do it sparingly!   Just add a thin layer so the area will look shiny– do not make it thick or it will go into the handle attachment and keep the handle from moving when it dries as well as fill in the screw hole on the back.  I made this mistake on the first few I did.  To keep the pull functioning –apply the resin thicker in the middle of the pull as it is self leveling and just make sure the area around the joint gets just a little bit to look shiny.

Since you have to work quickly with EnviroTex Lite, I don’t have any photos of the process.  Basically you mix equal parts of the resin and hardener and mix it well – like you would cake batter –scraping the sides of the mixing container as you mix for 2 minutes. Then you pour it over the surface of the drawer pull. I started in the center of a pull and worked out to each side.  It is amazing to watch the resin self level. If bubbles arise  – gently exhale on them and they go away – like magic.

I made small amounts and then mixed more as I needed it.   Once I had all the pulls covered I let them dry overnight. Place them in a quiet room and cover them with a big box to protect them while they dry.   In the morning the resin was hard and shiny.  It states in the directions that the resin should cure for a few days before using.

Follow the EnviroTex directions to the letter.   It is not hard to use – READ and familiarize yourself with the process before jumping right in to ensure you have success.    I had no problems and was thrilled at how easy it was to use once I understood the need to mix it well.

Both Kelly and I love how the pulls came out and I love what a professional finish EnviroTex Lite creates. I will definitely be using it again. It is one amazing product.

How to update a brass drawer pull

 

Drawer knob makeover ideas

 

 

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{ 83 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lynne August 6, 2012 at 4:15 pm

You continue to amaze me . . . the pulls look wonderful. Great idea! And much, much less “out go” on the budget!

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2 Marce August 6, 2012 at 4:30 pm

Very cool and modern. Definitely will try this, thanks for the directions and the what not to do and what to do. Very helpful! Beautifully done!

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3 Lisa August 6, 2012 at 4:36 pm

Wow – what a great idea to update a piece of furniture! I had similar pulls on a dining room set and when I switched out the hardware lines from the original ones were visible. This is a great alternative to buying new hardware…..they came out so pretty too!

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4 Erin August 6, 2012 at 4:37 pm

This is such a great idea. I love how they turned out. Great graphic pattern and color and great tutorial. Thanks!

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5 Natalie @ A Turtle's Life for Me August 6, 2012 at 6:02 pm

That is incredible!! I’m seriously amazed by this and now my mind is racing with how I can use this product! Love the colors and patterns you chose! Thank you so much for this post!

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6 Mary Meats August 6, 2012 at 6:22 pm

I stumbled across your blog looking at something on Pinterest. I have to say what a find…Love your blog. Thanks for sharing all these fabulous tips that you come across. Gives me the courage to refinish a few things…
Mary

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7 Gail August 6, 2012 at 6:36 pm

Just reading your tutorial was amazing! Your ideas are fascinating and inspiring! Can’t wait to read more!

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8 Jane August 6, 2012 at 7:33 pm

Beautiful Diane!! I love your projects…they’re always so colorful. Eye candy for sure!

Jane
Finding Fabulous

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9 Ceci Blanco August 6, 2012 at 8:26 pm

What and amazing idea… so creative… and I’m so doing it. Thank you :)

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10 Stacy August 6, 2012 at 11:23 pm

What a creative idea! I love that this makes it possible to reuse existing fixtures yet do something more than just spray paint them. I can’t wait to try this!

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11 Michele @ The Scrap Shoppe August 6, 2012 at 11:31 pm

This is SUCH a fantastic makeover!! I never would have thought to use anything other than paint on drawer pulls. I love it!! Brilliant idea!

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12 Alicia S August 6, 2012 at 11:47 pm

Fabulous! I love this idea!

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13 JaneEllen Jones August 6, 2012 at 11:50 pm

Girl you must have the patience of a saint and talent out the gazoo. I was with you til you had to cut/place/affix/smooth the napkin to the pull. Sure(nervous giggling).
I have those same napkins from Michaels. I covered a jar with one of them, had a heck of a time evening out the napkin. Think it could be said I’m all thumbs, not the most patient person attempting projects like that. Think about as far as I’ll get will be spray painting some pulls I have to put on a tray.

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14 Jennifer @ Decorated Chaos August 6, 2012 at 11:55 pm

These are gorgeous! Very cool Diane! ….Envirotex is now on my list of must try items. Thanks for sharing!

Jennifer

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15 Toqua's Crafts August 6, 2012 at 11:57 pm

What a GREAT idea and you did a fabulous job!

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16 Denise August 6, 2012 at 11:58 pm

You are the our D.I.Y QUEEN Diane!

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17 Sandra August 7, 2012 at 12:06 am

Brilliant!!
I am definitely looking for this product, I can think of lots of uses—now that you told me about it, lol.

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18 Marie Smart August 7, 2012 at 12:19 am

Very creative and it looks amazing! If you were to describe that to me without a picture by picture shot of each step, I couldn’t have imagined it. Your brain is incredible!

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19 Kim August 7, 2012 at 12:26 am

That is awesome! I had never heard of that resin before, but it is some cool stuff. All the things you can do with it! Although I never would have thought of drawer pulls.. that is brilliant, and they came out awesome. Pinning this so I won’t forget!

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20 Jean August 7, 2012 at 7:02 am

Brilliant! I have some of that and would love to try this!

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21 Pam August 7, 2012 at 8:48 am

Diane once again you dazzle me with your brilliance! What a great idea. Thanks for sharing this, Pam

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22 Susan August 7, 2012 at 9:01 am

Thanks for sharing this great, really great idea!

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23 Erin@TheSavvySeeker August 7, 2012 at 10:07 am

Love your idea for updating the drawer pulls! I always wondered if there was a way to “age” or faux age the look of the brass pulls without painting them? Do you know of a trick?

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24 Diane August 7, 2012 at 10:51 am

Hi Erin – Check out this blog. They have a few different methods on how to age brass. http://www.steampunklab.com/howToAgeBrass.php

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25 Erin@TheSavvySeeker August 7, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Diane! Thanks so much…this information is perfect! Much appreciated!

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26 sherry August 7, 2012 at 10:22 am

I am so glad a came across your blog. I love it and thank-you very much for your tutorials.

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27 Donna McBroom-Theriot August 7, 2012 at 10:54 am

This is such a great idea! Thanks.

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28 Jen August 7, 2012 at 10:59 am

The pulls are awesome! Does the resin make items waterproof? I was trying to think of how to cover an object last night that would possibly come into contact with liquids and would need to be washed.

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29 Diane August 7, 2012 at 12:35 pm

Hi Jen – you can wipe the resin clean with wet rag, but I do not think you can submerge the resin in water. The water may end up getting under the resin and ruin the seal between the object and the resin.

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30 Jen August 7, 2012 at 12:43 pm

Thanks!

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31 Jessica @ Decor Adventures August 7, 2012 at 11:14 am

Wow those are amazing! I can imagine all kinds of projects you could do with that stuff. They look really good.

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32 Diane August 7, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Thanks Jessica – It is really awesome stuff – the EnviroTex Lite. I am sure I will be using it again.

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33 Angie Simonsen August 7, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Those turned out BEAUTIFULLY!!! I am pinning, and I KNOW this is one product I can & will turn to! Thanks for a great tutorial on how to do this!
Glad the move went well and you were able to enjoy some quality time with your Daughter!

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34 Diane August 7, 2012 at 12:31 pm

Thanks Angie – I can’t believe I never used the resin until now. You will love the finish it produces.

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35 Elizabeth @ Lizzi's Creations August 7, 2012 at 12:34 pm

That is amazing! I have never thought to use that technique before. Drawer pulls and dresser look fabulous!

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36 Marsha Milstock August 7, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Diane the bureau is absolutely gorgeous.
I love everything about it.
The workmanship is supurp,
The attention to detail,
Your tutorials are clear, and well thought out,
The fact that you are so in sink with what your daughters’ style is so wonderful,
I am sure your girls feel so lucky and special to have such a creative mom .
Bye for now
Love m

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37 Lynn August 7, 2012 at 2:00 pm

What a fantastic look. I can’t wait to try this!

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38 scottsdale interior design August 7, 2012 at 4:25 pm

Very good job, you explained it well through the text and well through pictures. We all love DIY and when the instructions are as clear as yours more people will opt to try and follow it! Great post!

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39 Gina Leitz August 7, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Oh my goodness, I LOVE THESE pulls!!! They are amazing beyond belief. I have used napkins in the past to decorate baskets. You had to separate the backing off the napkin and adhere it to the willow basket with mod podge, but what you’ve done with the pulls is in another league by itself! Another amazing job Diane.

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40 Michele D August 7, 2012 at 7:07 pm

Beautiful. Too funny…Today, I just spray painted pulls just like that. Doing another of my girls’ rooms. Painted a similar dresser white and the pulls are black (yawn! now that I see your tutorial. haha). But, I am doing a typography graphic on the top so it should be pretty when it’s done. Just had to chuckle when I saw this. Please keep the great ideas coming. Thanks!!

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41 Lyn August 8, 2012 at 5:36 am

Awesome project. You have the patience of a saint to cover those handles, I know my limitations and I would end up throwing them out the window. I love Enviro Tex Lite, I used it many years ago to make pins out of postage stamps when the breast cancer stamp first came out. A good stand to keep the items up off the surface so the Enviro Tex can drip off is sugar cubes, cheap and it doesn’t stick. Also since it takes quite awhile to dry it’s a good idea to cover your project with a box to keep the dust out and it’s imperative if you have a cat. LOL.

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42 Judy August 8, 2012 at 9:41 am

What a wonderful idea! Thanks so much for sharing! I HAD to Pin it!!

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43 jen lossing, the consigner designer August 8, 2012 at 11:17 pm

These are so awesome! What a great use of materials. I am a new subscriber! I can’t wait to catch up on old posts and see what you have next!

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44 Diane August 9, 2012 at 9:43 am

Thanks Jen. The EnviroTex Lite is one awesome product.

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45 Catherine Hauter August 9, 2012 at 6:15 am

Diane just when I wonder what are you going to do next, you hit it out of the park! This is so great it’s sick! Love it!!!!

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46 Martha August 9, 2012 at 1:54 pm

They look ceramic in the photo! The applications of Enviro-Tex I’ve been seeing are so interesting, but your originality always stops me in my tracks.

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47 Carol August 9, 2012 at 9:42 pm

Diane,
I have used a similar product in scrapbooking! I bought those plastic ketchup bottles, cut the tip at a slant and use those to apply this type product. Gives total control where it goes and can save more too. These are totally beautiful..will be doing these to my desk soon!

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48 Shanda August 10, 2012 at 12:56 am

I have a dresser I plan to paint with similar pulls. I wasn’t sure what to do with them until now! I love the blue and white ones. I am pinning this for sure!

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49 Carla August 10, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Those came out really cute!

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50 Felicia August 10, 2012 at 7:29 pm

My daughter has made three “bottle cap” tables using the EnviroTex Lite. She has taken old tables and transformed them farily inexpensively. We’ve made good use of coupons to save on the EnviroTex! And if bottle caps aren’t to one’s liking, just about anything else could be used (shells, tiles, etc.) to transform the table top!

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51 Mark E Tisdale August 11, 2012 at 12:03 am

Those ‘new’ drawer pulls are so creative! I bet there are a ton of things you could apply the same technique to and create more unique decorative accessories. I hadn’t heard of EnviroTex before, but it sounds awesome to work with and helped you create a really pro finished product.

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52 Maria August 11, 2012 at 4:13 am

I can’t wait to see more of you using this product! I might have to buy it when visiting New York in September, since I don’t think we have it here in Finland -it really looks great! Thank you!

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53 Jenni August 12, 2012 at 2:23 pm

I have a set of dressers like this that I love from the Granni, but I have hesitated to paint them since I didn’t think I could easily replace the handles. Now I have a solution! I reposted this to a link on my blog! Hope it helps a lot more people with 1920′s dressers!

http://accomplishedbyaccident.wordpress.com/2012/08/12/best-idea-of-the-weekend/

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54 Diane August 13, 2012 at 9:49 pm

Thanks Jenni

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55 deb August 12, 2012 at 10:54 pm

Absolutely gorgeous!! Adore that color blue and the white!!
*hugs*deb

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56 Tauni August 14, 2012 at 1:29 am

D, you are freaking brilliant. I love this project. Best thing I have seen online in months. Really. AND…I have just the dresser to try this out on!!!

You’re a delight. Thanks for sharing this with my readers on Show & Tell at SNAP!

xoxo, Tauni

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57 Diane August 14, 2012 at 11:39 am

Hi Tauni – Thanks so much for leaving me such a wonderful comment. Coming from you – the SNAP creator, plus all that you see and do in the creative world -it means a lot! XO

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58 Corrine August 14, 2012 at 9:25 am

I think this is my FAVORITE post ever!! Thank you so much, I love it. Drawer pulls are so expensive & I could never find what I wanted. Now I can make them.

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59 Diane August 14, 2012 at 11:04 am

Thanks Corrine – Drawer pulls are expensive that is why I had to come up with a decorative solution. Buying one is OK, but when you need 14 or more the cost adds up quickly.

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60 Condo Blues August 15, 2012 at 9:16 am

I’m not a fan of the original brass pull style but I really really really like your makeover to the point I’m going to be on the lookout for brass pulls!

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61 Inspire Me Heather August 24, 2012 at 9:49 am

They look great, they do! I have this linked to my knobs and pulls post too today, for inspiration! Have a great day!

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62 Lynne September 4, 2012 at 9:40 am

I am redoing a dresser for my daughter and was wondering what kind of pulls to buy – don’t have to now!! These are great – thanks for sharing! Love it!

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63 Geosomin November 21, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Toothpicks! You’re brilliant! I have these very handles, oddly enough, and want to repaint them to put back on a refinished dresser. I had no idea how to keep the handles up while they dried until now.

Thanks :)

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64 Dorothy February 5, 2013 at 12:56 am

Beautiful!

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65 Clara March 23, 2013 at 9:33 pm

What a fantastic job, Diane! I’ll try to do something similar as soon as possible. Congratulations on your incredible talent to create beautiful things.

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66 Kathleen May 7, 2013 at 7:03 am

OMG! I have this tall boy’s wife! Same handles, same, legs, etc. I got the bureau from a garage sale when I got my first apartment half a lifetime ago. Someone had been there first and was going to return for the whole set except for my dresser which the seller had attempted to French country DYI. The bureau refinished nicely (painstaking process), but I’ve lamented not getting to that sale earlier ever since. I would have had a whole set of quality furniture like they just don’t make anymore. You mentioned Upstate NY, did your furniture come for “Downstate”? Nice work! New to Pinterest where I found your site; love to DYI – K from LI.

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67 Lisa K May 19, 2013 at 6:45 pm

Can you HELP me?! I know this article is from months ago, but if anyone sees this, how do you first remove the pulls from the drawers?! My drawers don’t have screws visible on the inside — how were they attached in the first place? I think the drawer inside is particle-board not wood, so is there a different attachment? I tried popping the pull off the front with a screwdriver, crowbar style, but it just bent the metal and snapped a corner off! Yikes! Help me?

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68 Diane Henkler May 22, 2013 at 11:33 pm

Hi Lisa – Without seeing the piece, I can only take a guess at what may be holing the pulls in. The pulls could be set into the front of the drawers with glue which would make them hard to remove. Or -Sometimes there is a layer of wood right behind the drawer front. My bathroom cabinet drawers had this. I had to pry the backing off the drawer front to see the screws. Since you said the piece is made with particle board, they are probably glued in.

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69 Courtney B July 2, 2013 at 8:33 pm

Hi, I know this was posted so long ago and I was wondering if you need to use a material that is light and flexible like napkins or fabric. I have scrapbook paper that I would love to use because it fits the decor I’m using perfectly. I’m having trouble finding fabric or other flexible materials that match. If I can use paper, how should I do so? Thanks for posting this. The pulls look amazing.
Courtney ~

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70 Diane Henkler July 2, 2013 at 9:01 pm

Hi Courtney – you can use paper, it will just be a bit stiffer when you wrap it around the back. If you wet it first, it may be easier to form around your pulls. If you do wet it, let it dry on the pulls before applying the resin. IF it is thick cardstock – maybe you could soak it in water first and see if you can carefully separate it to make it thinner and more pliable.

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71 rachel McAdams July 3, 2013 at 5:25 pm

Hi Dianne,

Would this product be durable enough to use with kids? The tops of my drawers are plastic with a depression scooped out in the middle to open the drawers…so no handles. I would love to have a contrast from the rest of the dresser.

Thanks,
Rachel

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72 Glen July 27, 2013 at 2:31 pm

I use enviro tex ALL the time!!!! It is an incredible product.

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73 Madeline August 28, 2013 at 4:51 pm

Could you use fabric instead of a napkin?

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74 Diane Henkler August 28, 2013 at 5:07 pm

Hi Madeline – You could use fabric, but it would have to thin, thick fabric would be too bulky to wrap around the pulls.

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75 Donna napolitan August 31, 2013 at 12:12 pm

What a great idea. I have done something similar to a dresser turning some dichroic glass cabochons into decorative knobs. Just takes some creative thinking to turn something that’s “so-so,” into something that shouts ,”WOW!” love your idea and will definitely try it!

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76 Madeline September 9, 2013 at 9:45 pm

What did you mix the enviro tex in? Does it have to be glass and is it something you will have to throw away once your done?

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77 Diane Henkler September 21, 2013 at 10:12 pm

You can use glass or plastic as long as the container has straight sides so you can stir the mixture well. I used plastic cups that I bought at the the dollar store. I threw them away when I was done.

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78 Heather November 10, 2013 at 12:15 am

What type of white spray a paint do you recommend for this project?

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79 Diane Henkler November 10, 2013 at 10:15 pm

Hi Heather – Any brand and or finish of white spray paint should work just fine. Flat would be the best so the napkins adhere well – no glossy finish. I like Rustoleum paints, but generic brands will be fine. Just shake the can well.

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80 Lisa November 11, 2013 at 3:36 pm

Absolutely amazing. I think I will be trying this one!!!

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81 Emily December 2, 2013 at 2:21 pm

I just wanted to thank you for such a great idea and instructions! I painted an old dresser for my toddler’s room and was searching for cute new drawer pulls. Finding something I liked that was reasonably priced was pretty difficult. I am so glad I found your blog because I now have adorable drawer pulls and I’m so proud of them. This was my first project like this and now I’m excited to try other DIY projects! Thank you so much for the inspiration!

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82 Lee January 21, 2014 at 6:19 pm

Wow, absolutely gorgeous!! I also was going to paint my drawer pulls that I absolutely hated (gold similar to yours).. I started to research painting and saw this… Love it, can’t wait to try this!! Thanks!! What do you think about the previous comment with the ketchup bottle to pour the envirotex making it a little easier to pour on ?

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83 Diane Henkler January 23, 2014 at 9:32 am

Thanks Lee – As far as using the ketchsup bottle – Envirotex needs to be mixed in a flat bottom container. If you could mix it in the bottle first and get is stirred well, then put the cap on, it may work just fine. If you have to transfer it, you may lose some in the process. It is thick and sticky and you don’t want too many air bubbles. Squeezing it out of a bottle, may cause more air bubbles when applying. To get rid of them, use a toothpick to pop them right after applying so surface will be smooth.

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