I was cruising thrift stores a few months ago and came across an interesting L Shaped desk in the parking lot of 1st Rate 2nd Hand here in Tucson. It was off to the side (like it was destined for the trash) sitting in the mud, had a bit of weather damage, but was in overall good shape. After looking it over and realizing it was made from oak plywood with oak trim I went inside to inquire if it was for sale. They sent a guy out with me to look at the pieces (two sides and the main body). Asked how much of the big piece and he said $10, then $5 for each of the sides. Needless to say “I’m too cheap to pass up a deal like that.
So after about another $80 and a lot of hours, I’m typing my post from the finished desk. It’s not perfect because I became a bit anxious to finish the project as the days turned into weeks.
The process was actually quite simple; I started by using a varnish stripper designed for wood. It removed a lot of the yellowed varnish, but it also left a lot behind. I spent many days sanding starting from 80 grit and moving down to 120. I choose to leave the wood a bit rough so the varnish would not need to be fully removed and the project would be completed more quickly.
Before Pictures of Oak Desk
Once everything was sanded and the desk was cleaned as best as possible, with my limited tools, I proceeded to mix my stain. I choose to use Minwax “Early American” with a hint of “Red Oak”. In mixing my stain I choose 2 cups of “Early American” to 1/2 cup of “Red Oak” with 1/4 cup of gum turpentine (used the turpentine to help the stain absorb through the remaining patches of varnish on the desk pieces.
After allowing the stain to dry I worked in a coating of Howard’s Feed & Wax, then waited a couple of days and hit the surface with furniture polish. Except for the top of the front L, everything worked beautifully. Unfortunately, he varnish stripper dried out the top of the desk, where the monitor sits, a bit too much and the stain isn’t adhering properly. The desktop actually feels dry; so I’ll hit it with another coat of Feed & Wax over the weekend, which should correct the issue.
Pictures of Restored Oak Desk
Once the top is treated, it’s time to build the hutch!