Vintage Desk Refinish

I can’t believe that my oldest started college this fall.  Thankfully she is going to a local college so she is still living at home.  However, with the college workload beginning she wanted to have a desk of her own.  I spotted this beauty at the Habitat Restore for $15.  Solid wood, dovetailed drawers and the perfect size.  The only problem was that the top had some water damage and some of the wood veneer was coming off and bubbling in a few places.
I glued down what I could and then with a utility knife cut out the “bubbles”.  I cut away as little as I could, but made sure that everything that was left was securely in place.
I really wanted to stain this desk to bring out the glory of the wood.  The top was the worst part, so I decided to take a chance before I resorted to painting.  After I cut away the damage, I patched with stainable wood filler.  It took a couple of times of filling, smoothing and letting it dry to completely fill in the holes.
After it was patched and dry we sanded and sanded.  
Then it was finally time to test the stain.  The top was the only place that was wood veneer, so I was a little worried how it would take the stain.  It did pretty well.
I always get into a big project before I realize that I haven’t taken any good before shots.  This is the best I have.
This is the place where I patched with wood filler.  It does look different and not perfect, but it doesn’t look too bad either.  After the stain had dried I applied 2 coats of rub on polyurethane to protect it and bring out the colors.
In fact I think it turned out pretty well.
It is a good, solid, pretty and useful piece that my daughter can enjoy for years to come.


  1. 3


    *hugs* Thank you for not painting the desk. It’s a horrid trend that’s gotten out of control. Painted furniture is fun, but there’s no good reason to destroy an antique. I love how the stain turned out. You chose a beautiful desk and did a beautiful job of restoring it.

  2. 6


    OMG -I just re-did the EXACT SAME DESK! This is so weird. Mine has a metal plate on it that says Chicago Furniture Company. Does yours?

    I’m still working on the top of mine but when I’m finished I’ll do a blog post on it. Yours looks great!

  3. 7


    We just bought the same desk at an auction> I love how your came out. Working with damaged veneer is a challenge and you handled it perfectly.
    I am sure it means alot to that college girl to have yu do this for her!
    regards Peggy

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