I’d been making a lot of noises about crafting and snazzing up my garage and I guess my little sister caught on because for Christmas, she got me an awesome book on rehabbing furniture (amazon affiliate link ahoy). That week, I set off to our huge local Goodwill with my cousin. When I spotted a 1960s desk I saw all the potential the book had taught me to look for. We pulled the drawers out one by one to make sure they were working (clean and dove-tailed), and found a bunch of letters from the 70s and 80s inside. (I accidentally forgot them when we left, and I’m pretty bummed about that. They included a pen pal letter from a child, bills, and a doctor’s office sign-in sheet on notebook paper.)
I haggled gently with an employee and ended up getting the desk for $30. A total steal, if you ask me. It had some bumps and light mold on the outside, and one small peeling veneer spot on a drawer, but other than that it was in awesome shape. I loaded it into the back of my car and took it home. My mom advised me to note how much time and money I’d spend on it when I mentioned how cheap it was. I didn’t, but I’d estimate it took me four weekends, a few week days, and about $160. But that included many tools I’ll use again for future projects.
To complete the desk, I did this over the span of about a month:
- Removed all hardware
- Washed the desk with a mold remover.
- Glued the peeling veneer down and let it dry with a clamp.
- Sanded the desk with an orbital sander.
- Vacuumed the surface and drawers and wiped with a damp shop towel.
- Drilled new holes for hardware.
- Filled the old hardware holes with wood putty.
- Painted the desk with a tinted primer.
- Painted the desk with flat paint.
- Sealed the desk with clear poly-acrylic.
- Refreshed the legs with Danish oil.
- Replaced the hardware with white enamel knobs.
- Thoroughly enjoyed getting to say wood, hole and knob a lot.
The putty part was definitely the most fascinating since I had no idea what I was doing. It didn’t come out totally perfect but I don’t think you can see the holes unless you’re really looking and feeling for them. Drilling was very fun. The polyacrylic was a total nightmare and I’ll be much more careful next time I do it, especially if I’m planning on giving a piece away or selling it. The drips made me crazy. But the kids will be using the desk as a homework and busy-time desk in my home office so I really needed it decently sealed. (It could have used one or two more coats of the sealant but I rage quit the entire project at that point, threw the knobs on and carried it into my office like The Hulk.)
I was going to paper the drawers, but NOPE.
The final result is just wonderful. I couldn’t be happier with it. Every time I glance over it at it I’m thrilled with how cute it is and how cool it is that I did it all by myself. (With the assistance of a cool book, lots of blog posts on how to paint and use polyacrylic, and my best friend wandering over from next door to chatter at me while I swore about paint drips, so many paint drips, we hates them, precious.)
Stuff I used:
- Ryobi 18-Volt Drill (the only thing I already owned)
- Drill bits (Christmas present from my brother)
- Ryobi orbital sander
- A shop-vac with a brush attachment (borrowed it from my dad)
- Shop towels
- Painter’s tape
- Tons of latex gloves and a plastic drop cloth
- Fine and medium grit sanding blocks
- Minwax Polyacrylic
- Minwax Wood Filler
- Valspar Ultra Paint + Primer in Sea Exposure
- Kilz Latex tinted to close to my paint color
- Watco Danish Oil
- Wooster Pro synthetic brushes
- Foam brushes
- Small foam roller and 3 rolls
- Plastic tray
Some day I’ll take a nice picture of it!