Friday, September 09, 2016

The Desk That Took Three Months To Finish

Hi again!

So Mr. K and I have been busy. We've been restoring a gorgeous solid oak desk that I picked up at a Veteran's Sale here in our town for $16. And it's taken us a while to do it too. But...well, you take a look. I think the end result was well worth the blood, sweat, and tears.

We started roughing up the top with 80 grit sandpaper only to find that what we thought was the top wasn't real. It was a terrible wood veneer.

This was when Mr. K discovered the joys of sanding.

You can see here what I'm talking about. The left side is the veneer. Sand that away and you're left with this gorgeous solid oak core just begging to be freed from it's prison.

We happily saved it. 

Ah. After a week straight of sanding, countless face masks, and Monsters and Men on repeat, we finally did it. All the veneer came off and we were left with the raw, untouched beauty of the desk's surface. Our muscles (and neighbors) thanked us for the break.

Enter these guys. We originally wanted to sand the entire desk and do it in a stain...but after the top, we decided to do a two-tone look instead. Mr. K chose the colors since it would be his desk, after all. English Walnut stain with a semi-gloss polycrylic coating for the top. (Note: not shellac or polyurethane- we wanted the wood's natural color to be present and those two tend to yellow with age)

And this was the choice for the bottom. A satin finish coffee color with primer already in it. Easy to wipe off and pretty forgiving. Gorgeous! 

We used a tack cloth to get all the bits off and then used the wood conditioner, following the instructions on the can. We live in a very dry state so any conditioning is wonderful. Besides, it helps with an evenness of the staining later.

Here we're mid stain process. Look at that grain!

VoilĂ ! Stained! So lovely. 
Let's get a second look at that, shall we?

Mr. K is cleaning up the insides of the drawer cavities here. We've applied five coats of the polycrylic coating to protect the desk's surface. We hand sanded with 220 between each coat. Don't recommend using the rotary sander for that job. It took off almost all the work we'd put in and there were tears and shouts of panic. Hand sanding, that's the way to go.

Here's a teaser after one coat of the paint on the lower part of the desk. Lovely colors, eh?

Mr. K showing off his special order handles. His choice. And I think they look smashing! 

He did have to use a bolt cutter to make the screws fit the drawers. The original screws that came with the handles were too long. The hardware store sold tons of screws but none of them were the right size. Apparently the screws for the handles are not standard size. Enter our friend, the bolt cutter.
Used bar soap to rub the insides of the drawer cavities to keep the painted drawers from sticking and put the drawers in. Oh and that center drawer has a lock and key. Here, we're almost done. One tiny little detail remained.

Ah, yes. My special project for the desk. I glued an old world map down onto the bottom of the drawer then coated it with high gloss polycrylic so Mr. K could essentially throw anything in the drawer and not have it ding up the map. Turned out great, even if it took two days to complete. I touched up the front a bit more after the pictures here. But we left the sides paint free. 

I'd say it looks pretty decent. And the colors match perfectly. 

The best is last. We had to move the monster of a desk to the back room of the house. It's solid oak, mind. And big. Two things that don't always go well together in a small house. But with the help of a few friends (thanks Mr and Mrs C!) we managed to get it there and finally settled in Mr. K's office. 

It's perfect and Mr. K couldn't be happier. But we've decided no more big projects for a while.

Until next time,

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