Several weeks ago I spotted an old writing desk at my local Goodwill. It was only $20 but I wasn’t looking for a desk, I didn’t need a desk, I didn’t even know I was in the market for a desk…so I passed it up.
A few days later I’m still thinking about that desk, it’s gnawing at me, I should have bought it when I first saw it.
So, I finally give in and make a return visit. The desk wasn’t there, but in it’s place was this desk. OK, this time the desk is mine.
This desk had history. I envision it being owned by a sweet little girl. She’s very friendly and imagines herself to be a bit of an artist. She knows she has to study but keeps getting distracted by everything around her. “The drawer pulls are loose on my desk…look how they just swivel around and around leaving circular grooves.”
She loves Michael Allen…Ok, it might be Matt Arnold…heart heart heart. “Homework is really getting in the way of my doodling.”
I didn’t quite make up all of her story, she left me a few doodles engraved in the top of the desk so I could get to know her better. The big heart and M.A.T. were really deep, she had a lot of feelings for that guy.
My son assured me that it had to be a girl, that no boy would make hearts, besides, the handwriting was too neat.
As for the drawer handles, several of the drawers had these nice circular gouges where it looked like the old handle, having come loose, was spun countless times until it created this modern art.
What this desk had going for it was that it was solid wood, sturdy, great construction, beautiful legs, antique and at a price of $17, she was going to be my next project.
I usually start with the flattest surface of a piece, in this case the top, because it’s usually the easiest to tackle and I have a feeling of accomplishment when I’m done, even when the hardest part is yet to come.
The entire top not only had the original finish but someone had applied a coat of shellac which peeled off in sheets. The remainder of the desk was sanded down, including the doodles, until nothing was left but the original beautiful wood.
The top was restained a dark walnut and finished with several coats of a Tung oil varnish.
Next up, all the trim. I used a light gray chalk paint followed by a light sanding on the decorative edges. The chalk paint was finished with a clear wax and a little bit of antique wax in the grooves to get them to stand out a bit.
The drawers were last. Can you tell what kind of drawer pulls this desk had originally?
The previous owner had drilled a third hole for their new drawer handles. Once I decided what size handle I would use, one of the holes needed to be filled.
The filled holes were sanded down as well as the circular art. Luckily, this wood was solid and could take a bit of sanding.
The drawers were finished with a darker gray chalk paint than the trim. Once the paint was dry, sanded the edges followed by more wax…again, mostly clear with a little antique wax on the edges.
There was really nothing wrong with the handles that came with the desk except I wanted a little different look. Don’t worry, the handles will go into my box-o-junk for my next project.
Usually I get my handles at Hobby Lobby but since they weren’t having a sale this week, I picked up the handles you see above, here.
I think this shows a little bit better how I added a bit of the tinted wax to the grooves. The remainder of the paint was finished with a clear wax.
No more graffiti! The engravings sanded out beautifully.
Desk looks complete but I have one more project for this desk that I’ll show you later in the week. Stay tuned and stay inspired.