Leather Top Desk Restoration

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Project by Roz posted 08-09-2012 01:29 AM 5357 views 1 time favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This old desk, probably from the 1950’s followed my wife home after an auction at Kirkwood Plantation, a historic mansion a few miles way. It was pretty rough and not very old. The shoppers were there for the very fine pieces by renowned makers so this desk went cheap and the buyer knew someone she could persuade to fix it up.

This desk is covered in veneer and was finished in lacquer. It had some water damage as well as deep dents and dings. The leather top was dried out and required replacement, and it is this that made the project interesting for me.

I gave the desk the needed minor repairs and a good sanding. I topped it off with 6 coats of lacquer. The leather I ordered online from HEATH’S RESTORATION SHOP. The owner was very nice and helpful in deciding color and embossing. He also got me up to speed on how to replace a leather top.

After removing the old leather I sanded the surface and cleaned it. Next we applied an even coat of wallpaper paste. Then I carefully laid out the leather working it into place against the edges of the wooden trim and smoothed it out with a rolling pin. It surprises me still how nice an old beat up piece of furniture can look with a little work.

-- Terry Roswell, L.A. (Lower Alabama) "Life is what happens to you when you are making other plans."

10 comments so far

View chopnhack's profile


375 posts in 2812 days

#1 posted 08-09-2012 02:23 AM

Nice desk! The edges of the leather are simply butted to the wood? That sounds like a super precise fitting!

-- Sneaking up on the line....

View MonteCristo's profile


2099 posts in 2606 days

#2 posted 08-09-2012 03:06 AM

Nice desk ! Well worth the clean up I would say.

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3355 posts in 4130 days

#3 posted 08-09-2012 03:26 AM


That restoration looks fantastic! As I read your write-up, I thought you were investing an awful lot of money in leather to restore an old desk, but then when I enlarged the pictures, I could see that it was well worth it.

Thanks for sharing.


-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View Built2Last's profile


234 posts in 3895 days

#4 posted 08-09-2012 04:03 AM

YOU DONE GOOOOODDDD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

View MayflowerDescendant's profile


414 posts in 3204 days

#5 posted 08-09-2012 05:33 AM

AWESOME job! Nice restoration. It’s a beauty! Thanks for sharing. Play / be safe.

-- Glen - Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

View woodworm's profile


14471 posts in 4008 days

#6 posted 08-09-2012 10:18 AM

Great restoration job.

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 4091 days

#7 posted 08-09-2012 08:04 PM

Nice restoration!

View stefang's profile


16705 posts in 3752 days

#8 posted 08-09-2012 11:39 PM

Looks brand new. Excellent restore!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Roz's profile


1707 posts in 4204 days

#9 posted 08-10-2012 01:03 AM

Thanks for the comments all.

ChopandHack, the leather is glued down with wall paper paste and that allows for time to fit it tightly in corners and along edges. The leather is thin and can be stretched easily. It is much easier than I expected it would be and I am really happy with the results.

Lightweightladydefty, you don’t know how right you are. I spent over twice as much on the leather as my director did not the desk itself.

-- Terry Roswell, L.A. (Lower Alabama) "Life is what happens to you when you are making other plans."

View jack1's profile


2128 posts in 4445 days

#10 posted 08-11-2012 10:12 PM

You do excellent work. Looks brand new in the pictures. Thanks for sharing!


-- jack -- ...measure once, curse twice!

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