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Protecting a cherry desk top

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Forum topic by Murdock posted 11-17-2019 05:54 PM 369 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Murdock

144 posts in 3046 days


11-17-2019 05:54 PM

Topic tags/keywords: desk cherry protection finish

Looking for a few opinions.

My father built a beautifully cherry desk for my daughter and I would like to protect the top from damage.

The desk will be in her bedroom and she knows not to have food/drink there so I am not so much worried about that.

What I am worried about is scratches and pencil, pen, markers etc, both from the ink itself as well as creating small dents in the top where she writes.

The top is simply oiled with Minwax Antique Oil Finish.

Some ideas I have are, in no particular order:

I would like as much of the wood to show as possible so I am leaning toward the glass or vinyl. And due to cost the vinyl is looking pretty nice at this point.

Thoughts on any pros/cons?

Thank You

-- "Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new." - Albert Einstein


19 replies so far

View bilyo's profile

bilyo

910 posts in 1664 days


#1 posted 11-17-2019 06:55 PM

I don’t know if you would want to entertain this option but, you could add 2-3 coats of a wipe-on poly without changing the look much if any. Beyond that, I think the glass top (or acrylic) would be best. Just be sure to use the thin spacers intended for the purpose to keep the glass from making actual contact with the finish.

You could also accept the fact that it is a desk and, barring any carvings in the surface, you can refinish it later if necessary. Particularly the antique oil finish should make minor restoration fairly easy.

Congratulations for your concern. Some would not care.

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Murdock

144 posts in 3046 days


#2 posted 11-17-2019 07:10 PM

Thanks for your response.

I hadn’t considered the possibility of adding poly to the top. I will think on that.

If this were one of my projects I wouldn’t be so concerned about it. But he built an heirloom piece of furniture for her. In addition it is likely his last major project as it is getting difficult for him to work on them.

-- "Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new." - Albert Einstein

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therealSteveN

4318 posts in 1136 days


#3 posted 11-17-2019 08:30 PM

I too would suggest the Poly. The glass thing in a very adult setting is still a piece of glass laying flat in the “break me” position. I wouldn’t feel comfortable having it at all if say your Daughter was young. The same in plastic is going to quickly scratch, and mar up.

-- Think safe, be safe

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ChefHDAN

1489 posts in 3411 days


#4 posted 11-17-2019 08:32 PM

A lot of the consideration is your daughters age. You can get acrylic at the big box store for a very reasonable price and that would give you plenty of insurance. The other side of the coin is that the “wear & tear” from your children will give the piece character. It’s your call, I’d go with a poly finish and let life determine what happens to it.

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

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wildwoodbybrianjohns

539 posts in 109 days


#5 posted 11-17-2019 08:41 PM

Glass! You can improvise a solution so it stays put. Acrylic, for the cost. Children dont care about the “finish” or the quality of the furniture. My boy completely destroyed the top on the desk I built for him, poly wouldnt have done squat to protect it. I was wise enough to paint the desk to begin with, cause I knew it was gonna take some damage.

-- Wildwood by Brian Johns: It is wiser to find out, than to suppose (S. Clemens)

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Murdock

144 posts in 3046 days


#6 posted 11-17-2019 08:49 PM

Thank you everyone for your opinions and suggestions.

I think I’m going to start with a sheet of acrylic. A lot of the advantages of the glass with much lower cost. If I end up not liking it, I’m not out much.

-- "Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new." - Albert Einstein

View LeeRoyMan's profile

LeeRoyMan

421 posts in 289 days


#7 posted 11-17-2019 08:55 PM

Heirloom or not, I would let it take its lumps and bumps. It should have some kind of finish on it though.

I’ve had a glass top on my grandpa’s old desk for years, and if anybody can break it i could, but it hasn’t broke yet. It’s 1/4” thick.

If you do use a piece of glass or acrylic, use these underneath.

Acrylic scratches to easy if you ask me. (plus, it’s not that much cheaper)

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LeeRoyMan

421 posts in 289 days


#8 posted 11-17-2019 08:59 PM



Thank you everyone for your opinions and suggestions.

I think I m going to start with a sheet of acrylic. A lot of the advantages of the glass with much lower cost. If I end up not liking it, I m not out much.

- Murdock


If you do go with the acrylic, scrape the edges smooth and break the edges, the go over it with a torch to polish the edges. This will also eliminate the sharp edge.

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smallerstick

27 posts in 1739 days


#9 posted 11-17-2019 09:42 PM

I second the wipe on poly suggestion. Any layer added to the top – acrylic, glass will attract condensation between it and the surface and risk unintended damage. Normal wear and tear is to be expected of course. WOP is easy to touch up.

-- Peter

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LeeRoyMan

421 posts in 289 days


#10 posted 11-17-2019 10:53 PM


Any layer added to the top – acrylic, glass will attract condensation between it and the surface and risk unintended damage.

- smallerstick


That’s why you use these.

View bilyo's profile

bilyo

910 posts in 1664 days


#11 posted 11-17-2019 11:35 PM

I made a false top for a similar piece once. It is just plywood with edging that projects down around the original edge. The plywood top is then covered with some plastic laminate to take potential damage. When the heavy use is no longer needed, the false top can come off and the nice mahogany top will be undamaged.

View Travis's profile

Travis

349 posts in 328 days


#12 posted 11-18-2019 03:44 PM

My experience with wipe on poly is that it scratches easily, and is not easy to repair since “touch-up” layers won’t blend with the underlying layers (as a shellac or lacquer would). If you don’t want the surface to get damaged/marred in any way, I think putting an acrylic or glass topper on will give you the most protection.

-- The plan is wrong; my finished piece is right.

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bondogaposis

5570 posts in 2913 days


#13 posted 11-18-2019 05:33 PM

I like to use those large desk calendars that also serve as a desk pad. Like these=.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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TEK73

270 posts in 269 days


#14 posted 11-18-2019 07:01 PM

First, to accept wear is of cource a choice to make. It all depends on your daughters age, if the wood id thick enough to be fixed (sanded down if nessesarly). However, I’m also with those that think the wear is a part of the furnitures history – so if it’s not to extreme I would just accept it.
I would have keept with the original finish – oil is easy to fix and by a light sandower and a new layer it’s all good again Poly will much harder to fix. Just ensure that you have several layers of oil and renew quite often in the start somthat you do not allow felt marks and other stuff set markings that go deep into the wood.

-- It’s good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end. - Ursula K. LeGuin

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OSU55

2450 posts in 2551 days


#15 posted 11-18-2019 09:38 PM

Not sure what the $difference is between tempered glass vs acrylic vs lexan type more scratch resistant plastic. One thing is you can always upgrade to glass if the clear plastic doesnt hold up. I would not put poly on it. Protect it until the kid is at least in hi school, maybe until she goes to college. It will still get bumps and bruises. Then clean it up and re-gift it. Possibly use poly then. An heirloom should be protected. Another thought is what does your dad think – protect it or let it get banged up?

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