The Desk

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Project by tat2grl posted 02-12-2008 12:35 AM 2192 views 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I have felt pretty bad for the past 2 months, trying to fight off this Epstein-Barr virus, and I’ve tried my best to behave and follow the doctor’s orders. But the past two weeks I’ve felt better and decided to go outside and play. Laurie purchased a desk years ago at an estate sale for about $75. One thing led to another and the desk wound up outside, exposed to the Oregon elements, for about 6 months. When she moved here, it’s been confined to gargage, covered with a quilt for nearly two years. There’s no family ties or heritage stories to the desk, so she gave me permission to “experiment”. The stain was damaged by sun and rain and it just looked sad. In my condition I wasn’t all that fired up about using a chemical stripper even with a mask, so I decided to sand it. I discovered the wood was different colors, so I’m not sure if that’s natural or from exposure. I brought each drawer into the house (better lighting) to paint the edging and on a day when it was near 70 degrees (in Jan for goodness sakes! not that I’m complaining) I painted the really thin pieces that clung to the stain like cement. The desk was built in the 1940s. I haven’t found much in the way of nails. It is sturdy and even exposed to the elements I haven’t found any warping. On the thrid picture I’ve shown some of the more stubborn stain areas. I have a Dremel, but I’m not convinced it would be a good choice…afraid it would take off too much wood. Any suggestions on how to attack these areas? Also, since the color of the wood is varied, I’ve decided I like the unique look of it and don’t want to cover it up in any way. Any suggestions for that? Varnish? Polyurethene? I’m just not sure. We plan on using it as a place where I can sit with my laptop, design and draw, etc.

-- "Creativity is...seeing something that doesn't exist already. You need to find out how you can bring it into being and that way be a playmate with God."

10 comments so far

View DustyNewt's profile


690 posts in 5154 days

#1 posted 02-12-2008 12:51 AM

To my taste, stains and scratches sometimes add character when left underneath the new finish if the style is right.
Otherwise, you could bleach the entire piece (or matching parts thereof) with a product like this;

It will even out the wood color, make it very light. You would then stain or dye the piece.
It looks like a fine desk and worth the trouble.
Besides it survived all those harsh conditions because it wanted to LIVE.

-- Peace in Wood ~

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27249 posts in 5114 days

#2 posted 02-12-2008 01:16 AM

If you are happy with the color and condition of the desk I would simply hit it with several coats of wipe-on poly and enjoy it. This looks like a nice piece of furniture please, please don’t let it spend any more time outside. I am sure that once you put a finish on it this will be the last thing on your mind.

How about posting some pics of the finished piece. I would really like to see this.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Tomcat1066's profile


942 posts in 5088 days

#3 posted 02-12-2008 02:15 AM

All I can say is that the desk looks good as is, so I’d do something clear like Scott’s suggestion of a wipe on polyurethane. I wouldn’t do anything else, but that’s just me.

-- "Give me your poor tools, your tired steel, your huddled masses of rust." Yep, I ripped off the Statue of Liberty. That's how I roll!

View cajunpen's profile


14578 posts in 5358 days

#4 posted 02-12-2008 04:04 AM

Nice looking desk – no matter what you decide, it will be a vast improvement over the old finish. I personally would go with the wipe on poly.

-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased."

View Bradford's profile


1434 posts in 5114 days

#5 posted 02-12-2008 06:24 AM

Ditto on the wipe on poly. The desk is fine “as is”. but we want more pics of the final look. please post as we are addicted to more, more, more, something to the liking of “splinters in your blood” Thanks

-- so much wood, so little time. Bradford. Wood-a-holics unanimous president

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 5166 days

#6 posted 02-12-2008 12:44 PM

Can’t wait to see the finished product. Some stains and discoloration on a nearly 70 year old piece…, not a problem in my book.

View tat2grl's profile


61 posts in 5093 days

#7 posted 02-13-2008 03:41 AM

Then it’s decided. I’m headed to Lowe’s tomorrow to get a good wipe on poly. Stay tuned for the finished product!

-- "Creativity is...seeing something that doesn't exist already. You need to find out how you can bring it into being and that way be a playmate with God."

View ErsatzTom's profile


104 posts in 5098 days

#8 posted 02-13-2008 08:43 PM

I’m wondering if the dark area at the bottom might be water stains rather than part of the original finish since you said this spent some time outside. If it might be, try some Oxalic Acid wood bleach. It is the easiest kind of wood bleach to find. It comes as dry crystals that are mixed with water and its primary use is to remove that type of stain while leaving the original wood color. Still, if you go that way, try it on a hidden area first. Can’t wait to see the final product!

-- Tom, Southwest Florida

View Texasgaloot's profile


465 posts in 4992 days

#9 posted 04-30-2008 08:03 PM

You know, a quick wipe-down with a coat of Boiled Linseed Oil would enhance the grain patterns while at the same timedarken the white areas. That would bring the lighter areas a bit closer to evening out with the color of the stains (whatever their origin, but I suspect ErsatzTom is absolutely correct about that.) The oil would have absolutely no detrimental effect on you or on your furniture. Just be sure to give it enough time to weep out (if you used a light coat, a week is safe) and once cured, the wiping poly can be added right overtop of it with a very nice effect. Just a thought.

-- There's no tool like an old tool...

View BertJ's profile


49 posts in 4990 days

#10 posted 04-30-2008 10:31 PM

I second both Tom and Texasgaloot. First, use Oxalic Acid wood bleach on the water-damaged area on the lower legs. (Available at most hardware stores and probably the borgs as well.) Then try BLO all over to even and darken the color. Finish with wipe-on poly. My choice for the latter is Minwax Satin. Great stuff and easy to use.

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