LumberJocks

Refinishing an old desk

  • Advertise with us

« back to Finishing forum

Forum topic by Nygiants77 posted 551 days ago 1823 views 0 times favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Nygiants77's profile

Nygiants77

57 posts in 592 days


551 days ago

Over the weekend I acquired an old desk with a little history. At first thought I was going to get the desk refinish it and give it to my niece. I showed the desk to her and she asked me if I could paint it purple!! I laughed at her and refused to paint a solid wood piece! How outrageous of this generation to even have such thoughts (she’s only 13). After doing more research I find out that this desk is a “kindel”. Kindel has been making furniture for over 100 years so this desk may very well be an antique. So I guess my first question would be is it worth anything? How would you go about refinishing it? How do I get the new finish to match the old finish? Or do I need to take off all the old finish and apply my own finish? Thanks in advance I hope you all have a good day. I will try to attach pictures but I’m still new to this.
Photobucket
Photobucket


20 replies so far

View huff's profile

huff

2804 posts in 1919 days


#1 posted 551 days ago

Nygiants77,

You have a few options for redoing your desk; It’s really up to you as far as how sentimental this desk may be to the family. I would guess the desk is from the 30’s and as far as a real antique value, I’m not the one to give advice on that. ( but I think it would hold more sentimental value then real antique value.) An antique dealer might be able to tell you the value.

Looking at the Kindel web site, I couldn’t tell much about their value.

With that being said, one option would be to refinish it. You could try just stripping the top and refinishing just that and cleaning the rest of the desk up with a little scratch remover, etc. (cheapest and easiest).

You could strip and refinish the entire desk if you are trying to bring it back to looking new. (I doubt you would devalue it by doing that). If you decide to strip and refinish, be careful, the top, drawer fronts and end panels are veneer so be careful not to damage.

DO NOT TRY TO SAND THE FINISH OFF! I’ll guarantee you will end up sanding through the veneer.

....................And one more option is; go on Pinterest and check out Enchanted Furniture. You will see that a lot of older furniture is being refurbished or re-purposed and most of it is being painted! So your niece may not be that far out of line. lol.

I’ve designed and built custom furniture for over 25 years and now I’ve started a new hobby and that’s refurbishing and re-purposing furniture. It’s a lot of fun and it’s very popular.

If you wanted to paint it; I would suggest doing a two tone instead of just doing one color. (boring). Even if you did the purple that your niece wanted it. Go to the paint store and pick out a purple that she would like, use that for the main color and use that on the legs, top and frame work of the desk.

Pick either a lighter shade or darker shade from the same sample chart and use that to do the drawer fronts.
Add some new “funky” knobs for the drawers and “Bamm”, you have a new desk and your niece will love you!

BTW; to paint, all you would have to do is lightly sand to prep the surface for paint and most paints today are a primer and top coat in one.

Good luck, but first, check with an antique dealer before you do anything drastic to it.

-- John @ http://www.thehuffordfurnituregroup.com

View dhazelton's profile

dhazelton

1173 posts in 931 days


#2 posted 551 days ago

Reproduction colonial piece. But as it is 70 or 80 years old it starts to approach antique status and I would respect that. I would strip it with liquid stripper and 0000 steel wool, than shellac. I would keep sanding to a minimum or you’ll lose patina. Pick up a desk without any pedigree for the purple paint (besides – next year she’ll want pink) – the Kindel has decorative value at least.

View johnstoneb's profile

johnstoneb

656 posts in 807 days


#3 posted 551 days ago

You will never match the old finish. Your choice is strip it or use a refinisher.

I just over christmas help my son-in-law refinish his grandfather’s desk that he inherited. It was a nice desk but probably built in the 40’s. The finish looked a lot like like your desk. No deep scratches just thin from age and sun damage. We used one of those commercial furniture refinishers ( like Formby’s or Watco makes one.) The desk came out looking a lot better than it did when we started. It will work in his office very well until he replaces it with another one that he is stripping and refinishing in his garage right now.

If we had had more time it should be sanded lightly and a new finish put on it. There was enough of the old finish left that it did have a light coat for protection and looked like a desk that should be in a young lawyers office. (It looked a lot more professional after we finished than before.)

One thing I learned the refinisher is a lot more work than the instructions imply and the chemicals in it are “hot”. They ate right through nitrile gloves had to get heavy rubber gloves to finish the project.

I have since used the refinisher as a stripper on some small night stands and sanded and refinished after wards they came out looking really well. I kind of like using the refinisher over the stripper on large flat surfaces over the stripper. They both soften the finish and you wipe it off, the refinisher seems to be a littele faster. witth intricate moldings and carvings the stripper as a gel will penetrate and work in the crevices a lot better.

I definitely wouldn’t paint it it’s to nice looking.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View Cosmicsniper's profile

Cosmicsniper

2199 posts in 1793 days


#4 posted 551 days ago

I would have a hard time putting so much work into a piece and then give it to somebody who can’t appreciate it. I’d either finish it and give it to somebody who would appreciate it, or paint it and give it to your niece.

As sacriligeous as it may be, I’d strongly consider purple…and a very happy niece. Then again, I’m biased because I doing care much for the piece…nor do I think it’s worth anything.

-- jay, www.allaboutastro.com

View Nygiants77's profile

Nygiants77

57 posts in 592 days


#5 posted 551 days ago

Are we sure that this is veneer? I was hoping that it would be solid wood. If it is veneer I would have to use liquid finish stripper even though I was hoping I could just sand it down. As for my niece there is no chance of my painting this purple. Ill make her a desk out of plywood or something if she really wants a desk at all.

View huff's profile

huff

2804 posts in 1919 days


#6 posted 551 days ago

Nygiants77,

If you open one of the drawers and look at the top edge of the drawer front, you may be able to tell if it’s veneered. I would be almost certain that the sides of the desk are and the top looks like it too. That was not uncommon back then.

And if you totally strip it, you will probably find the legs are made of a totally different wood then the veneered surfaces.

Most mass-produced furniture from that era was veneered. That’s not a bad thing, just how it was done. You can check with an appraiser, but I agree with Cosmicsniper, I don’t think it has much value to it. (only to you).

-- John @ http://www.thehuffordfurnituregroup.com

View Joao Araujo's profile

Joao Araujo

18 posts in 1469 days


#7 posted 551 days ago

Hello,

Instead of painting it purple, you could stain it using purple tint.

You would still have the “wood” look and your niece would be happy.

Take care,

Joao Araujo

View Tennessee's profile

Tennessee

1447 posts in 1149 days


#8 posted 551 days ago

Lots of opinions here, but as a 12 year refinisher, (no more of that, thank you…) I can safely say this is a reproduction piece from the 30’s or 40’s, and yes, it has a lot of veneer on it. The middle drawer seems to have a chip out of the left edge. It looks like oak veneer, but I’d bet it is common poplar at the core, if not plywood in some places.
If you choose to refinish:
Paste stripper like Zar or something similar, wash down with 000 steel wool and lacquer thinner, and a nice thin, finish but durable, like one or two coats of a good poly, since it will go to your niece.

If you choose to paint, and I am actually amazed at all the painted furniture I see now in antique shops, you’ll have to do a prep sanding of the existing finish, primer it, and if you can, think real hard on spraying the paint, maybe an acrylic. Purple seems nice…

-- Paul, Tennessee, http://www.tsunamiguitars.com

View huff's profile

huff

2804 posts in 1919 days


#9 posted 551 days ago

Tennessee,

You lasted longer then I did as a refinisher. LOL Besides the EPA and the use of strippers, the main reason I moved away from furniture refinishing to furniture making, I was getting tired of having to tell people that it was going to cost them more for me to refinish it professionally, then it would be worth when we got finished. (especially furniture from the 30’s and 40’s).

-- John @ http://www.thehuffordfurnituregroup.com

View Nygiants77's profile

Nygiants77

57 posts in 592 days


#10 posted 551 days ago

I believe I’m going to refinish the whole desk and sell it. This way I can make my niece a desk and she can pick the design and color so she can actually be happy and appreciate it. Paul you mentioned Zar paste stripper do you recommend this product to strip the old finish?

View dhazelton's profile

dhazelton

1173 posts in 931 days


#11 posted 550 days ago

I’d carefully get the top stripped without touching the rest to see if you can get a match. Body of the piece looks fine with the touchup of the veneer loss on the drawer. Worth a try anyway.

Paste stripper is for heavy, multi layer finishes. A liquid stripper applied with 000 steel wool and wipe with a wash would be best IMO. Piece was probably originally lacquered, but use what ever you are comfortable with.

View Nygiants77's profile

Nygiants77

57 posts in 592 days


#12 posted 550 days ago

I contacted the company to find out more about the piece. I really want to know if its veneer or solid wood. So far all I know is that the piece is old (who would of known) but hopefully they contact me with more information. There is a deep scratch on the top that I may need to sand the rest of the top down to.

View huff's profile

huff

2804 posts in 1919 days


#13 posted 550 days ago

I hope the company can answer some of your questions. I would also be curious if it is a desk or maybe a make-up vanity? Any signs of where some brackets might of been attached to the back for possibly a mirror?

I would also suggest using a liquid stripper if you decide to refinish it. It is probably just a stain and lacquer finish that a liquid stripper with steel wool should remove fairly easily. Lacquer thinner works well for the final wash.

Don’t be surprised if the legs are made from a totally different wood then what is used for the top, end panels and drawer fronts. You’ll just have to blend the new stain to get everything to match again. Most mass-produced furniture uses a toner mixed in with the finish to help blend colors, especially if different woods are used.

-- John @ http://www.thehuffordfurnituregroup.com

View poopiekat's profile

poopiekat

3596 posts in 2369 days


#14 posted 550 days ago

Why not just remove the veneer from the desktop, and lay on another fresh veneer of yor choice?

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View Nygiants77's profile

Nygiants77

57 posts in 592 days


#15 posted 550 days ago

There is nothing on the back to indicate it was a vanity. Ill be picking up the liquid stripper today do you guys recommend any brands? How would I peel off a layer of glued on veneer?

showing 1 through 15 of 20 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

GardenTenders.com :: gardening showcase