Desk for grandson

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Project by Carey Mitchell posted 08-02-2015 03:07 AM 1639 views 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch

We found this desk in an antique shop which imports from the UK. Their best estimate, and I agree, is that it came from the late 1800’s – it was handcrafted, no indication of any factory work. It was in rough shape, requiring reinforcement of the leg joints, replacement of the leather top, remaking some moldings, replacing some missing chunks of wood, etc. Replacing the leather top with leather was not a good choice for a 12 year old boy, so I replaced it with mahogany veneer.

Three of the very nice dovetail joints in the drawers had broken, so I repaired them with dowels; there are nicer methods, but for a boy, who cares. Had to make some moldings from mahogany to repair damaged places – once stained and finished they were virtually invisible.

The major challenge was learning to use hot hide glue and the art of hammer veneering. I had done only a couple of small veneer projects, and the 27” x 48” top presented a challenge. I went to a thrift shop and came out with a crock pot, an iron and a stainless steel bowl for $8. I made my own veneering hammer (another post). I soon learned that hide glue is quite forgiving, and it is indeed possible to remove an entire strip of veneer for another try, I learned this by doing it – twice!

Hammer veneering was my only option for this large area. I used veneer 48” in length, and had only about 1/16” extra in the length, so being able to adjust was critical, soooo, hammer veneering, here I came! Learning by doing is the only way to go, it was easier than reading would have you believe.

The finish is 3 coats of satin and gloss varnish in a ratio of 5:1, that gave me the finish look I wanted.

3 comments so far

View gsimon's profile


1327 posts in 3359 days

#1 posted 08-02-2015 12:32 PM

Nice work! Great satisfaction bringing these old pieces back to life

-- Greg Simon

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 3538 days

#2 posted 08-02-2015 06:54 PM

Great looking refurb! Your grandson will treasure it.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4112 days

#3 posted 08-02-2015 07:58 PM

You did a fine job of restoring this piece. Having a desk like that should improve any child’s school work. Your automatically giving him a better environment to work in. If I were you I would speak to his parents about making sure that he has a first class set of supplies to go into the desk if they haven’t already done so.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

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