Card Catalogue Refinishing Project

I’ve been looking for a card catalogue for a long time at a reasonable price to store Magic The Gathering cards in, but every time I located one, the owner’s would want an exorbitant amount for them.

My dad actually was able to find one for me somewhere. It wasn’t in the best of shape and needed refinishing, so I cleared some space in the garage and got to work.

Step 1: Removing Metal

Before I could get to work, I had to remove the metal labels on the front of each drawer as well as a metal arm on the inside that was used to hold papers down, similar to a clipboard. The labels only had one screw in them located under the little lip used to pull on. Some labels were very difficult to unscrew because that lip actually bent over the top of the screw. This made me think that whoever put the labels on in the first place screwed the labels on, then bent the metal down afterwards.

Step 2: De-Rusting

All the labels were pretty darn rusty. It would have taken quite a bit of elbow grease if I wanted to get all the rust off with just a scouring pad, wire brush, and/or sandpaper. I took the labels and put them in a plastic container with enough vinegar to cover all of them. This loosened the rust from them and I was able to go over them all once with a scouring pad. HUGE difference.

before and after rust removal on label holders

Step 3:  Strip and Sand

The most time consuming part of the project. Using some stripper and lacquer thinner, I was able to scrape off most of the previous finish as well as some gunk leftover from who knows what. Possibly some hair product that might have been spilled on it.

I used an orbital sander for the flat spots, but had to do quite a bit of hand sanding. All of it was sanded with 200 grit, then again with 400 grit.

Card Catalog stripped and sanded

Step 4: Making Rows

Since I wanted to store cards inside these drawers, I needed something to keep them in rows nicely. There also was not a back to any of the drawers. If I didn’t put something in, there was a good chance that cards would just slide out every time I opened a drawer. So I got some trim pieces from the local hardware store, measured the drawer (twice, just to make sure), and started cutting the trim to size. Using a pin nailer I was able to affix the trim and make 3 rows inside each drawer.

Created drawers with rows to hold magic card collection

Step 5: Finishing

Final steps! I decided after one coat of stain that it would be enough. After letting the stain sink in, wiping off the excess, then waiting a day, I applied the sealer to all the wood. There were some bubbles in the finish so I sanded it all (ONE LAST TIME!) and applied a second coat.

Applying the stain

I also decided to paint the label holders. Some of the labels had cleaned up very nicely, but there were others that still had paint on them from the previous owners and weren’t entirely rusted before the vinegar bath. I went with a coppery golden color and applied to coats to all the holders, making sure to get up under the lip as well.

Checking out the freshly painted labels

I did have to go and hunt for replacement screws for the label holders since the rust didn’t seem to come off as well on those. Luckily, I found some screws at my local Menard’s store that were perfect.

Once everything was dry, it was time for re-assembly! Here she is in her true final form!

Card Catalog for storing magic cards finished