French Oak Desk Restoration

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Project by Eric M. Saperstein posted 01-06-2012 08:13 AM 3460 views 7 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This desk arrived in need of some help – a flaking dark lacquer finish, the desktop veneer was peeling horribly and had a dozen previous repairs, it just looked like it needed leather, and it had some structure issues.

Broken down and rebuilt – the top stripped off down to the solid wood substrait we then added new 1/4” oak to the surface and set it up for a leather insert. We also added a thin rope bead around the boarder to blend in the new desk surface.

Appliques were all removed and reglued. The drawers were reglued, feed were removed and reglued. Obviously the desk was refinished. A combination of analine and oil stains with a Waterlox tung oil finish.

The trick as always is restore it, but keep the old look and in cases like this blend in the new wood to look like it’s 100 years old!

-- Eric M. Saperstein, Master Craftsman

13 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


117328 posts in 3774 days

#1 posted 01-06-2012 08:16 AM

Very good restoration Eric.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

#2 posted 01-06-2012 03:41 PM

I respect your work, Eric.


View canadianchips's profile


2613 posts in 3194 days

#3 posted 01-06-2012 04:15 PM

Very nice restoration. A lot of time into this one.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View ed220's profile


624 posts in 3590 days

#4 posted 01-06-2012 05:05 PM

Very impressive restoration. You should be proud of it.

View shipwright's profile


8162 posts in 2995 days

#5 posted 01-06-2012 05:51 PM

Nicely done. Did you re-glue with hide glue?

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View Hallmark's profile


432 posts in 3303 days

#6 posted 01-06-2012 07:08 PM

Top notch work, looks great!

-- Style is simple, but not my execution of it.

View Eric M. Saperstein's profile

Eric M. Saperstein

766 posts in 3445 days

#7 posted 01-06-2012 09:05 PM

No unless something is truly an antique we don’t bother with the hide glues. The modern glues fill gaps better and bond to the random nature of very dry material, fills gaps in shrunken joints, etc.

Anything collectable class is restored with modern adhesives and then a shellac / tung oil finish. On occasion we will use a conversion varnish but generally we stick to natural finishes.

-- Eric M. Saperstein, Master Craftsman

View oi2342001's profile


27 posts in 2543 days

#8 posted 01-07-2012 12:55 AM

The desk looks great. What was the reason to strip the top down?

-- If your not having fun you're doing it wrong.

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 4090 days

#9 posted 01-07-2012 07:20 AM

Superb …….nicely done

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15690 posts in 2815 days

#10 posted 01-07-2012 08:42 AM

Very nice, excellent slills and patience. Congrats!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View Eric M. Saperstein's profile

Eric M. Saperstein

766 posts in 3445 days

#11 posted 01-08-2012 06:46 AM

The top had several previous repair patches in it and was in the process of delaminating. When we stripped thef inish off it it looked like a patch work quilt. Sometimes it is just easier to replace than repair. To blend it all in would be time consumming and unless we did a colored finish it would stand out too much. The finish on it when we got it was a dark horribly colored lacquer. Our process brings out the grain – thus the defects so the new surface was easier to blend in. Plus since it was delaminating over such a wide area, it would be impossible to reglue it and not have another area fail down the line.

-- Eric M. Saperstein, Master Craftsman

View Tom "BUG" Janos's profile

Tom "BUG" Janos

368 posts in 3677 days

#12 posted 01-09-2012 07:33 AM

Great job. What year was it originally made? I would love to have that in my den.

-- Bug from Minnesota. Creating Designer Firewood Since 2006

View Eric M. Saperstein's profile

Eric M. Saperstein

766 posts in 3445 days

#13 posted 01-10-2012 10:46 AM

I would figure turn of the century – course that happened again so to now specify 1880-1920 range. It’s machine made, hand carved in some areas but duplicated in others with hand touch-up. Well made, high quality desk.

-- Eric M. Saperstein, Master Craftsman

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