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Antique Desk Refinish

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Project by Safetyboy posted 02-10-2008 06:08 PM 9993 views 4 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is an antique mahogany spinet desk I bought and refinished for my wife. We thought it was really unique, and it makes a great writing desk for her and a place to keep all her envelopes, stationary, etc (and it encourages the writing of letters, a habit we’d like to preserve in this age of email).

It was pretty dinged up when we bought it:

spinet desk

I was going to strip it myself, but once I bought all the supplies, I realized it would only cost a little more to pay a finishing place to dip it for me, so we started from there:

spinet desk

For the finish, I gave it a coat of Minwax Special Walnut to even out the colors from the areas I had to plane down… then I wet-sanded in a number of coats of MW Antique Oil finish, which gave it finish that felt so great, I couldn’t stop touching it (my wife was starting to get jealous!). Finally, I added a few coats of wipe-on poly for protection.

spinet desk

-- -- Kevin in Mentor, Ohio





16 comments so far

View blackcherry's profile

blackcherry

3161 posts in 2481 days


#1 posted 02-10-2008 06:25 PM

Nice find and just a beautiful finish project…this should continue the legacy of pin…Blkcherry

View GaryK's profile

GaryK

10262 posts in 2646 days


#2 posted 02-10-2008 07:19 PM

Very nice restoration job! Well worth the effort!

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View CharlieM1958's profile

CharlieM1958

15698 posts in 2876 days


#3 posted 02-10-2008 07:40 PM

Great job! Looks like you restored it to its original beauty without destroying the character that comes with age.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 2480 days


#4 posted 02-10-2008 08:23 PM

Very nice restoration, Kevin. You have taken a piece of furniture that had seen some hard times and restored it to a thing of beauty. Great job. I like applying an oil finish before applying a top coat of poly as well.

Thanks for the post.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View bong's profile

bong

42 posts in 2418 days


#5 posted 02-10-2008 09:43 PM

vey nice piece you got and restored to original finishes.

-- Bong

View Les Hastings's profile

Les Hastings

1275 posts in 2431 days


#6 posted 02-10-2008 10:04 PM

Nice refinish job, Kevin!

-- Les, Wichita, Ks. (I'd rather be covered in saw dust!)

View griff's profile

griff

1206 posts in 2420 days


#7 posted 02-11-2008 02:06 AM

Great looking finish , my wife has an old desk that she`s trying to refinish.

-- Mike, Bruce Mississippi = Jack of many trades master of none

View jockmike2's profile

jockmike2

10635 posts in 2904 days


#8 posted 02-11-2008 03:24 AM

Beautiful restoration job. I found some old mahogany chairs at a yard sale last summer covered with black lacquer paint. You said you had it dipped Kevin, what did you mean. I would really like to refinish these chairs but don’t want to spend a fortune on stripper. Any suggestions. mike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View jockmike2's profile

jockmike2

10635 posts in 2904 days


#9 posted 02-11-2008 03:38 AM

Beautiful restoration job. I found some old mahogany chairs at a yard sale last summer covered with black lacquer paint. You said you had it dipped Kevin, what did you mean. I would really like to refinish these chairs but don’t want to spend a fortune on stripper. Any suggestions. mike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View Safetyboy's profile

Safetyboy

119 posts in 2417 days


#10 posted 02-11-2008 03:43 AM

Dipped = I took it to a professional refinisher, and he soaked it in a giant tub of whatever industrial stripper he uses, and then stripped it for me. Cost me about $100 I think for him to do the desk… but I would have had to buy $50 worth of supplies at HD (stripper, gloves, scratch pads, brushes, etc), plus spend a few weekends to do it myself, so I considered it a good deal. Plus, I got to get right on to the fun part!

PS Mike – my wife is looking for a chair to match her desk – you interested in getting rid of any of yours?

-- -- Kevin in Mentor, Ohio

View jockmike2's profile

jockmike2

10635 posts in 2904 days


#11 posted 02-11-2008 03:52 AM

Sure, but I’m not absolutely sure its mahogany. I’ll find out for sure. I only have a small section of one stripped. I’m not sure if its white oak or mahogany. mike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View rikkor's profile

rikkor

11295 posts in 2532 days


#12 posted 02-11-2008 01:51 PM

Great save of the desk. It looks great.

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 2543 days


#13 posted 02-11-2008 05:25 PM

Beautiful job!

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View Hibernicvs's profile

Hibernicvs

65 posts in 2525 days


#14 posted 02-13-2008 03:35 PM

If you’re not sure whether the wood is mahogany or oak, look closely at the grain. Mahogany is a very close-grained wood, which is why those old (and new) cabinet makers loved to work with it, it made carving easier. Oak is more “coarse,” which resulted in the Arts & Crafts movement recommending filling it with black wax or something before fuming or staining, giving it a lot of dark streaks. it’s also a very tough wood—I’ve cut down a green white oak, and it was … fun. If forced to guess, I would put a tentative vote for oak as the most likely wood to find in furniture at a yard sale—Stickley chose it for most of his furniture because it was the cheapest and most plentiful hardwood available at the time (which is also why he didn’t buy an industrial lathe when he started his original chair factory, commenting later that he was unaware at the time that his poverty would result in a new furniture style!). It’s many virtues were a bonus.

-- Hibernicvs

View jeanmarc's profile

jeanmarc

1886 posts in 2374 days


#15 posted 05-01-2008 03:30 AM

Very nice restoration

-- jeanmarc manosque france

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