I finally got around to doing some work on the dresser. I removed all of the hardware and scrubbed it down.
My dad started the repair job on the hole. He took a small piece of board and held it in place while I drilled a hole. He added some Gorilla Glue to the board, then threaded a bolt through the board and the hole in the dresser, and tightened it in place with a strip of metal and a wingnut. This is acting as a vice and smushing all of the small pieces of wood so that they lay flat. When it is dry, we will remove the bolt and fill in the hole with wood putty. When the putty dries, it will be time to sand the whole thing down.
One thing I didn't mention when I introduced the dresser is that the man that I bought it from was a smoker. There is definitely a tobacco odor about the piece, though it has lightened considerably already. I've read a bunch of different techinques on how to remove the smell, but would like to hear from you guys too. I've rubbed down the entire inside with dryer sheets, and I'm going to set some bowls of vinegar in the drawers as well.
I read this answer on Yahoo!Answers, and it sounds interesting, but I'm afraid to use something like kerosene on something that will be going in my childrens' bedroom!
"What I can suggest which works quite well on wood furniture(but of course not on upholstery) is to buy a quart of ordinary odorless kerosene, get the odorless kind, at your local hardware and mix that with about a pint of mineral oil purchased at the drug store. . Take and wipe down the entire outside, inside and everywhere you can get at including the drawer sides, front and back and inside. And of course, the inside of the cabinet. You need to apply that material with a large brush in places a rag isnt suited for and let it soak in a bit, then wipe it clean. You can apply this material safely to the outside finish of the furniture, it will not attack the varnish at all. Dont forget, to even get at the mirror, back and front. "
Now, that brings me to a new subject. My mom bought this shelf for me many years ago... Probably about 7 or 8 years ago, and it has sat in my garage the whole time. I just don't have room in my living room for it, my kitchen nook is nothing but windows, and I don't have a dining room. I've been thinking about giving it a coat of white paint and hanging it above my oldest daughter's bed. It's just about the same width as her twin bed, and I was thinking she could use it for books or knick knacks. Now, if you know me at all, it's hard enough for me to consider painting wood furniture at all, and then the idea of using a piece for something other than what it was intended is a huge leap of the imagination. What do you think of repurposing and repainting this piece?