How to Restore an Antique Desk

By Evan Williams , last updated April 12, 2011

Restoring an antique desk is a rewarding process that not only breathes life into an aged piece of furniture but also may prove a cost-effective approach to utilizing desk space. The newly restored antique desk will exude both varnish as well as classic furniture assembly. In embarking upon the process, assess specific detriments to the desk’s form and make amends to each individually. Typically, worn antique desks exhibit similar qualities that may be easily rectified.

The most noticeable decay to an antique desk is the wearing away of its once impeccable finish. Dark rings, cracks, and stains are inevitable in the life of any wooden furniture piece. Cracks that may have formed due to dryness should first be thoroughly cleaned out, and then filled with appropriate amounts of veneer using a veneer press before beginning the finishing process. In order to restore the tone of an antique desk’s complexion, first remove its original finishing. Use a wood friendly remover, which may be purchased either online or at any home improvement warehouse. Once the finish is stripped, use a non-water based solvent to remove any further residue. Then, use either sandpaper or an electric sander to smooth out the edges of the desk’s corners and surfaces. Depending upon the look one prefers, final finishing may be sprayed on with one of a variety of stains that range in terms of glossiness. Then, if one desires, paint may be applied as one’s color of choice. After painting, allow the desk to properly dry and apply a clear coat for the most professional-looking product.

Another major problem faced by antique desks is excessive forceful usage of its drawers, which causes decay and malfunction issues. These drawers may be resurrected with careful wood craftsmanship, but more often the severest problem lies in the handles and locks. These can easily be replaced by identical or similar-looking pieces that may be purchased at home improvement warehouses. Make sure each drawer is taken out of the desk and properly finished according to the same procedure as the desk’s body. To replace pieces of the wood that have chipped and may falter proper functioning, use veneer and glue to tighten and fill.

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