How to restore your Dad's old desk to former glories


Used and Abused: Before the first sanding
I got my hand's on my father's old desk with the intention of restoring it to former glories. My Dad had used it for years as a study desk both when studying an university and then as a teacher, then when my brother went to University, he took it so he could have somewhere to store his beer and comics on. As a result it was rooted and needed some love.

Here's the steps I took to renovate the desk and give it a new life in my home!

Note: I'm no expert when it comings to DIY renovations, I just made this shit up as I went remembering things from woodwork class back in the day. Key things to remember (and learned from past experiences elsewhere)  - do not cheap out on sand paper, paint brushes or satin. Use quality products!

Step 1.

Clean the desk. Wipe away the spider webs, coachroach shit, beer stains and god knows what else has built up over the years. Take your kick ass sander and sand the shit out of every piece of wood you see - use a low grit sandpaper. I used 60 grit and make sure its some quality paper. Don't cheap out like Don Brash on a dinner date.

Step 2.

Done sanding? No you are not. Get a hearth brush and clean the sand residue off. Then wet a rag with water and wash the desk off from top to bottom.

Step 3.

If your desk is a bit warped and the panels creaky, this is the time I decided to reglue them back together. I possibly should have done this as Step 1. Whatever, learning is part of life.

Get some PVA wood glue and a T-bar clamp or 2 and glue the panels you want back together. Leave overnight to make sure the glue has worked it's magic. If the wood is warped, you may be in for a battle to keep things straight.

Note to self: Glue before sanding!
Step 4.

Yip, I know you made a mess during step 3 so sand any PVA glue remains off. Now here come's a suck-ass part. You now have to resand the entire desk again to get rid of the 'roughage' that the intial sand left. Time to use a finer grit sandpaper - give your desk some love with at least a 120 grit - I did a round with some 150 and then did another sanding round with 180 grit. Again clean with a broom etc, wash down with water.

A well sanded desk. 
Step 5.

You are now ready for the last, and most fun part - the staining of the desk. The stain makes the desk looks nice and also gives it a protection from the 'elements' like beer being spilt on it. For this desk, I chose a nice kauri satin, my reasoning being the wood was light in colour and would suit whatever wood the desk actually is made from.

In a dust free area, apply the stain evenly with a quality brush. And by quality, I mean one that will not start to lose bristles half way through the job. Look for any areas of excess and even out. Depending on the product you are using they may suggest to wipe off with a cloth. I say directions are for pussies. Just do what feels right..... leave to dry overnight in a dust free area. Actually, follow the instructions and leave to dry overnight.

Nice satin Kauri finish
Step 6.

Find some  matching handles for the drawers. Put them in place and you're done:

Step 7.

Put some beer and comics on the desk. Done. Congratulations. You now have a really nicely restored old desk. You've earned yourself some Man Points. Go bake a bacon and egg pie to celebrate.

old desk restored

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