Free shipping within the U.S.

How To Refinish a Vintage School Desk

January 22, 2020

How To Refinish a Vintage School Desk

Happy New Year! I hope it's not too late to say that. I ended up getting really sick the day after Christmas and it's taken some time to get better and catch up with all the things I didn't get done while stuck in bed for 2 weeks. 

how to refinish a vintage school desk

STEP 1: Decide You Are Finally Going To Do It

Anyway, one of my first projects this year was to finally re-finish a vintage school desk & chair set that I've had sitting in storage for over a year. I found this cute little combo at a thrift store (which is pretty unusual for this type of vintage piece) and grabbed it up quickly. I don't think I really even looked it over too closely because when I got it home I realized what horrible condition the finish was in. 

how to refinish a vintage school desk

The desk top had tons of water rings all over it and the chair had "I HATE" (among other offensive words) scratched into the back of the seat. It was a mess and I just couldn't use it in my home, or sell it looking like that. Also... forgetting about it in storage for another year was not an option. 

how to refinish a vintage school desk

STEP 2: Stop Complaining & Invest In The Supplies You Need

I decided to go out and buy an electric sander, a tool I had never used before, but knew would make the project go much quicker. Turns out it was very easy to use (although made my hand go a little numb) and it DID make the project go faster. 

how to refinish a vintage school desk

I ended up buying the Makita Orbital Sander from Home Depot. I've only used it for this one project so far but I like it a lot. Note: these sanders don't come with a starter set of sanding pads. Purchase those separately and save yourself an additional trip to the store. Like I did. 

how to refinish a vintage school desk

STEP 3: Just Go For It

I haven't done many furniture makeovers and my main goal for this one was to ideally just bring back it's original beauty...minus the water rings, scratches and distasteful writing. I was a little nervous about getting started but I decided that it's current condition was so bad, I probably couldn't make it any worse. 

how to refinish a vintage school desk

After about 30-40 minutes of sanding (I took little breaks every 5-10 minutes) I was able to remove most all of the writing, scratches, water rings and paint marks. I probably could have sanded even more, but to be honest I'm fairly impatient...and also wanted the desk to still have a "heavily used" look. So I stopped there, and left quite a few scratches and markings so that it still has a lot of it's original character.

how to refinish a vintage school desk

I decided to re-stain the desk and chair using a color that is just slightly darker than the original. I chose "Early American" by Varathane and the smaller 8 ounce can they have in the store was more than enough to finish the job. 

how to refinish a vintage school desk

I think the stain color worked out well and I wasn't overly concerned about getting it on the hardware. I just went back after each section and wiped the hardware with a wet rag to remove any stain that might have gotten on it.  

how to refinish a vintage school desk

I wanted the desk and chair to look completely finished. So I went ahead and sanded and stained the inside parts of the desk too. This way when you lift up the desk top, there isn't a noticeable difference between the inside and out. 

how to refinish a vintage school desk

STEP 4: Love The Way It Turned Out

In the end I am very happy with how it turned out. It's not perfect but it's so much better than it was before. I will say it took longer than I thought it was going to take for the stain to dry. I left it in my garage for several days which is way longer than paint takes. Still learning. 

how to refinish a vintage school deskhow to refinish a vintage school desk

how to refinish a vintage school desk

I was going to put this adorable desk and chair in my sons room (and that still might happen) but for now you can find it in my shop space at Pomona Antique Mart. It is for sale. $199 for the desk & chair set or message me if you would like to make an offer. 

how to refinish a vintage school desk

how to refinish a vintage school desk

The desk measures 24 inches wide, 18 inches in depth and 30 inches tall. The top has the original inkwell and lifts up to expose a nice storage space inside. You can check it out in person in space #24 at Pomona Antique Mart which is located at 200 E. 2nd Street in Pomona, California and open everyday from 10:30am to 5pm. Feel free to contact me if you would like more info or to make an offer. 

 




Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in Upcycled Ideas

Upcycled Vintage Atlas Pages
Upcycled Vintage Atlas Pages

March 30, 2020

Whenever I see an old atlas while thrifting, I never pass it up. I love using vintage maps for crafting and in my home decor. I recently found and listed some pages from a copy of The Literary Digest 1927 Atlas of the World and Gazetteer.

Continue Reading

Vintage Suitcase Mini Bar
Vintage Suitcase Mini Bar

March 19, 2020

If you know me, you know I love a vintage suitcase! A while back we were hosting some friends for drinks and hors d'oeuvres before dinner. I thought it would be cute to set up one of my vintage suitcases as a pop-up mini bar in the middle of the table and place all the food around it. 

Continue Reading

Ideas For Reusing A Vintage Gentleman's Valet
Ideas For Reusing A Vintage Gentleman's Valet

February 12, 2020

This past weekend was mostly a dud in terms of sourcing new vintage treasures. The one thing I did happen to find is an amazing 1960s gentleman's valet. I've seen them before while thrifting but they've always been either over my budget or in really bad condition. But this one was in decent condition and a price I could live with, so I couldn't pass it up!

Continue Reading