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January 22, 2020
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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