Refurbishing an Old Desk

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Forum topic by refurbwood posted 06-15-2020 03:52 PM 486 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View refurbwood's profile


1 post in 535 days

06-15-2020 03:52 PM

Topic tags/keywords: desk question new refurbish antique project

Hello all,
I hope you’re doing well. I have zero experience with woodworking but I found this great desk and I’d like advice. As you can see in the image, parts of the drawers and side are falling off. I am unsure what the extent of the damage is but, assuming that the structure is sound and not wobbly…can I replace that side thin layer? If so, how?

If the desk is wobbly, how could I reinforce the desk?

I appreciate your insight. Thank you.

3 replies so far

View LittleShaver's profile


778 posts in 1904 days

#1 posted 06-15-2020 05:51 PM

Wobbly may be a good thing for this project. You will probably need to take that side panel out and put in a new piece. It looks like a piece of veneered plywood set in grooves on all sides. Wobbly means the glue joints are failing, all you need to to is take them apart, scrape off the old glue and re-glue them back together. Easy to describe, a bit challenging to accomplish.

One of the tougher parts is going to be getting the new panel to match the rest of the desk. I might give it a go if I needed a desk that size, but I’ve done 30-40 other restoration/refinishing projects in the past.

Good luck.

-- Sawdust Maker

View sansoo22's profile


1879 posts in 939 days

#2 posted 06-15-2020 06:26 PM

I agree with LittleShaver. This might require taking it apart to fix it correctly. Depending on age it may not have a lot of metal fasteners in its construction and relies more on traditional jointery and glue. If the veneer came off due to moisture and temperature changes its possible the glue joints came loose as well.

I’m no expert on old glue so that is just a guess.

View Picken5's profile


327 posts in 3976 days

#3 posted 06-15-2020 07:48 PM

I also agree with LittleShaver. The drawer pedestals on each end will likely need re-gluing. It looks like some of the veneer on one side and some of the drawer fronts have come off. Veneer can be replaced, but it can be a job. I restored/rebuilt a similar desk some years ago. It was about a 6-month project, but it turned out pretty nice IMHO. White Oak Desk

-- Howard - "Time spent making sawdust is not deducted from one's lifetime." - old Scottish proverb

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