Refinishing and dating a desk. (believe its 1930's)

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Forum topic by cut3x posted 08-28-2017 01:33 PM 1490 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 1080 days

08-28-2017 01:33 PM

I have lurked a while, finally got a reason to make an account. I know this isn’t a refinishing forum but I figured I would try my luck here. I have some woodwork under my belt but never done anything like this.

I am a Geology student and the school was getting rid of some old stuff. I scored this heavy old desk for $30. I believe it is rift sawn oak. Mostly solid oak as far as I can tell aside from the panels and top which are ply with rift sawn oak veneer.

This is my first time trying to refinish something old and I am looking for tips.

The carcass and drawers look like they are in great shape. The top and edges and where the chair has been striking aren’t looking so good but I think that will work out.

The veneer looks very thick compared to more modern veneers I have seen go. I think in gonna see how it goes with stripping and sanding, and if that doesn’t work out I may get a new veneer. Im not sure if I should veneer right over the old one and bondo the missing chunks or not yet.

The edges appear right now to be solid wood, I can see what looks like a miter join in one badly worn area. I may be able to get a nice straight edge hit it with the router and straight bit then sand. I also have an electric hand planer that I think could do the job just as well. It looks like the edges are mitered solid wood then a big veneer was put over the whole top.

So far all I have done is haul it home and get a good look and it and rub some gunk off with naptha.

It is marked on the under side Lycoming Furniture Industries 311-06 from Williamsport PA.

A quick search got me thinking its 1930s by the style of it, and my school has been around since 1870.

I don’t know what the current finish is, but it is badly worn. It doesn’t feel like poly, I have no idea if they had poly in the 30’s. But the naptha didn’t seem to effect it, so it may not be shallac either. Im not sure yet.

Any insight at all would be a huge help thanks everyone. Especially if anyone knows what a piece like this is worth.

4 replies so far

View Ripper70's profile


1378 posts in 1717 days

#1 posted 08-28-2017 02:43 PM

There’s a guy on YouTube with a channel that might be of interest to you. It’s called Thomas Johnson Antique Furniture Restoration and there are dozens of uploads covering a range of restoration topics. Worth checking out.

-- "You know, I'm such a great driver, it's incomprehensible that they took my license away." --Vince Ricardo

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2859 posts in 1707 days

#2 posted 08-28-2017 03:01 PM

I think you must be pretty close on the date.
I have one that is very similar. (painted green at one time)
The tag above the drawer, front on the skirt, says 1921

Here is mine. It has that rubber inlaid writing surface.

View cut3x's profile


2 posts in 1080 days

#3 posted 08-28-2017 04:52 PM

Thanks Ripper, Ive been watching basically everything I can on the subject on youtube.

Jbay, yeah 20’s 30’s seems about right. The school was founded in 1870.

View Chrisbyfried5's profile


1 post in 728 days

#4 posted 08-15-2018 01:05 AM

Hi cut3x, I also recently came into a desk very similar to yours. However, the hardware was lost during the move. Do you know where I can find a hardware list for this particular desk?

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