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September 19, 2013

Refinishing Our Heywood Wakefield C3971 Corner Bookcase

By Sara In AZ

It’s kind of funny how things work out sometimes isn’t it? I have wanted a Heywood Wakefield Corner Bookcase for as long as I can remember…..the price was never right though, or the ones that were available on eBay were too much to ship. It just never felt like the “right” one to buy. The all of a sudden one day up pops this ad on Craigslist.


And even more weird is it was literally one mile from my house! This was actually for sale at a local consignment store and I was kind of on pins and needles because by the time I saw the ad the store was closed. Soooo, I had to wait ALL the torturous night long to see if I would finally be the proud new owner of a Corner Bookshelf.

As luck would have it the bookshelf was still there and I took it home for $100! Whoo-Hooo! Of course, as I am sure you can tell from the Craigslist pictures, I have also signed myself up for another refinishing project too. eeps! I can never seen to get away from those can I?!

Now you can see, in even more detail, how bad the finish was.

It had definitely seen better days!

Crazy, right!?

I definitely had my work cut out for me!

And here we are just starting the sanding process…………………………

If you would like to see an in-depth look at my staining process please see the post Refinishing Our Heywood Wakefield M328 Desk Bookcase…….The Definitive Post on Refinishing! – that post will give you all the in’s and out’s of my refinishing process.

Most of the disassembled pieces waiting to be sanded.

I have removed the backers to the bookshelf in order to make the sanding/staining process easier.

And the sander is out and ready to go!

Here is one backer already sanded and one waiting to be sanded…remember to always sand ALL of that old finish off!

Starting to sand one of the shelves…………………

………and here I am starting to sand the bookcase.

And now we are finally onto the staining!

I always use the same Wheat ‘Heywood’ stain I get off of a seller on E-Bay. There is a seller on there, needful useful things, who mixes stain to match Champagne and Wheat finishes of Heywood Wakefield blonde furniture. It is a stain and topcoat all in one so you do not have to worry about a lot of steps. I have always had really good luck with his stains, and he will mix custom colors for you if you need that as well. Here is a link to his E-Bay store needful_useful_things . He is a really great seller who is super nice to deal with and is really customer service orientated as well! Check him out!!!

Yes, I did bring the bookcase into the house to finish staining….and yes, Mike DOES really love me to deal with all of this craziness! ha!

One of the shelves getting a final coat.

And here is the final result!

No more stains, no more water marks…you wouldn’t even know it was the same bookshelf!


I am SO excited to finally have a corner bookshelf!

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39 Responses to Refinishing Our Heywood Wakefield C3971 Corner Bookcase

  1. Joyce Wagner Reply

    September 19, 2013 at 8:50 am

    Wow – you would never know it was the same bookshelf!!! I just purchased a HW bedroom suite that looks like your before pics so advice is quite timely for us. It’s going to be our fall project. Now that I’ve seen your bookcase, I’m going to be on the lookout for one of those also! Great job and thanks for sharing!

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      September 19, 2013 at 9:03 pm

      Thanks Joyce! Let me know how your project turns out, I just know you will love the results! And check out Craigslist in your area from time to time, I’ll just bet one of these bookcases will pop up eventually!

  2. Eartha Kitsch Reply

    September 19, 2013 at 9:58 am

    BEAUTIFUL! Showroom new. I just *knew* that you’d have it done in no time!

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      September 19, 2013 at 9:05 pm

      Thank you SO much Eartha! Wait….you might be thinking about the *other* bookcases I just picked up…..those are not quite done yet! 🙂

  3. Lassie Reply

    September 19, 2013 at 10:21 am

    Beautiful! If we weren’t old, fat, exhausted, and lazy, we could be doing the same thing with our bits and pieces! Very inspirational, it looks wonderful.

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      September 19, 2013 at 9:09 pm

      Thank you Lassie! And you know what…… I feel the same way too half of the time, so don’t feel bad…..I just push myself hard because I know the only way I am going to have nice looking furniture is if I do it myself!

  4. Silvercat Reply

    September 19, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    I have one that I got for $150, with one of the shelves cracked (apparently because someone tried to force it out). My dad ended up doing most of the work, but it looks so nice!

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      September 19, 2013 at 9:10 pm

      Oooohhhhhh GREAT find Silvercat! $150 is a total score! And wow, how cool that your Dad refinished it for you!

  5. Joanna Reply

    September 19, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Gorgeous and GREAT job! I’m currently in the middle of a refinish project myself – I’m doing a video series on it on my blog, too! http://www.midcenturymacgyver.com

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      September 19, 2013 at 9:14 pm

      Thanks so much Joanna….I am very impressed by your refinishing skills as well! Way to go!!!!

  6. MadgesHatbox.com Reply

    September 19, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    I just love Heywood Wakefield. We have a bedroom set with vanity.

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      September 19, 2013 at 9:17 pm

      Oh my gosh, I totally know what you mean…..I feel like I have a complete addiction to H-W or something!!!!

  7. Sherree Reply

    September 19, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    Great job Sara! I want to see it filled with poodles 🙂

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      September 19, 2013 at 9:18 pm

      Ha! Thanks Sherree…..and you just know the poodles WILL be coming soon!!!

  8. Maureen Reply

    September 20, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    Absolutely beautiful! I am in total amazement at the before and after’s of your projects-you are very talented! I love H-W so much, wish I could find some pieces 🙂

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      September 20, 2013 at 5:08 pm

      Oh thank you so much Maureen…that really does mean a lot to me!

      You know what, don’t give up on finding some H-W…almost all of my pieces have come from Craigslist ads…..you just never know what is going to pop up on there!

  9. AtomicVault.etsy.com Reply

    September 20, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    Beautiful! We of course will need a fully stocked picture in place in your house cause I’m dying to know where you’re going to put this 🙂

    Coincidentally, we finally got our HW surfboard tiered end tables home from the re-finisher yesterday! Now all we need is a HW coffee table!

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      September 20, 2013 at 5:17 pm

      Thank you Colleen!

      SO excited you got your H-W tables back, I am sure they look fantastic! I’ll just bet a coffee table is coming up soon for you!

      ugh….my house…..I have all this nice furniture and nowhere to put it, it’s sad. We desperately NEED more room and hope to find a house soon, but the market here is really, really horrible. Seriously, when we find a place and get everything situated everyone will probably be sick to death of seeing pics of our place! Be prepared for the onslaught!!! 😉

  10. RetroRuth Reply

    September 20, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    Sooo gorgeous!!! I am so happy that you rescued this piece and were able to really do it justice. Girl, you are totally talented!

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      September 20, 2013 at 5:19 pm

      Awwww, thanks Ruth……I really appreciate it girl!

  11. Carrie Reply

    September 21, 2013 at 11:19 am

    Wow Sara, you did a fantastic job on that! Obviously that bookcase was meant to be yours. 😉

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      September 21, 2013 at 3:21 pm

      Oh gosh, thank you so much Carrie…..I guess it probably was meant to be mine, esp. after I had looked for one for SO long!!!!

  12. Kim Campbell Reply

    September 21, 2013 at 11:36 am

    OMG Gorgeous! Another job well done. :=D

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      September 21, 2013 at 3:22 pm

      Thank you so, so much Kim!!!

  13. Susan Reply

    September 21, 2013 at 11:55 am

    It always amazes me that there are people (like you!) who are patient and skilled enough to do this – this looks fabulous! (*moment of envy*)

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      September 21, 2013 at 3:25 pm

      That is so kind of you to say Susan, honestly really anyone could do this…….but like you said – it just takes patience! LOTS and LOTS of patience!!!!! 🙂

  14. Charlotte Reply

    September 22, 2013 at 9:30 am

    That is beautiful! Nice job, as always!

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      September 22, 2013 at 1:37 pm

      Thank you so much Charlotte!

  15. tammyCA Reply

    September 23, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    Stellar job! I love the shape of this bookcase. I’m gonna keep my eyes peeled for an ugly duckling in disguise if I can do the same kinda transformation.

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      September 23, 2013 at 3:17 pm

      Thank you Tammy! And totally keep your eyes peeled for a bookcase like this……..you can definitely take this project on and end up with beautiful results!

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  17. Lyzzie Reply

    October 8, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    Oh my gosh, that’s amazing! What a unique bookshelf and that finish is the exact buttery color of the Heywood Wakefield furniture.

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  19. sean Reply

    August 3, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    Beautiful work on the shelf! I am curious. If anyone can explain the difference between the various corner book shelf models? Ive come across 3 model #s but cant tell the difference. Thanks 🙂

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      August 3, 2014 at 7:41 pm

      Sean – Yes, I know what you mean – they all seem very, very similar. I am not 100%, but I think it has something to do with the feet/leg shape more than anything else. I’ve seen the exact same looking bookshelves from the top down – then when it gets to the feet there are just very slight variations. It must have been that different furniture groupings had feet to match. I hope this helps!

      • Sean Reply

        August 4, 2014 at 1:33 pm

        Sara, thank you for the information.You are 100% correct. I’ve looked online at what you mentioned and have noticed three different legs but the dimensions of the pieces are the same. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction.

  20. Patrick Reply

    October 14, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    I have done four coats of the champagne finish and have a question. When I look at the buffet straight on it looks great. when I look at it from an angle, some of it is shiny and some of it is not. I don’t really know what to do with this? Do I add a wax finish? Do I keep staining the non shiny sections? Is it a steel wool issue? How do I get the finish to look consistent from an angle view.

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      October 14, 2014 at 8:31 pm

      Patrick – Hmmmmmm, you have stumped me on this one as I have never really had that happen to me before. Just a guess here, but it could be that when you are applying the stain it is getting a bit thinned out in those spots? It is really hard to say though since you say it looks good straight on. I’d say rather than applying more stain coats maybe you could try a finishing sandpaper…..there are a bunch for sale on Amazon if you search under ‘micro finish/micro mesh sandpaper’ or ‘polishing sandpaper’. Believe it or not – you can get a high gloss finish from sandpaper! If memory serves – they are all above 1000 grit and you can achieve a more satin look or a more high gloss look with the different grits. Let me know if this works for you….I am curious if it solves your problem!

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