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Besides relaxing, a use of our lake house family room is a home office.
Every home office needs a desk and I found just what I was looking for, a large vintage office desk, on Facebook Marketplace.
The desk was in good condition other than needing to be refinished and some minor repairs.
This project is finished and we are so pleased with the result of our Vintage Office Desk Makeover.
The owner of this desk told us that he purchased it in Floyd, VA. This is one of the pictures that was posted on Facebook Marketplace.
In this before picture taken in my yard, the desk looks pretty good.
Note that one drawer handle was crooked and one was missing. Also note the rough condition of the finish on the desk legs.
When we went to look at the desk, we immediately noted the missing desk handle.
Mr. SP knew he could fabricate a new desk handle, so we didn’t let it stop of from purchasing the desk.
In my yard the finish doesn’t look as bad as the picture posted on Facebook.
Since this desk would be used in our lake house, we decided to complete the repairs and refinishing there.
Repairing and Refinishing the Desk
The repairs and sanding were done outdoors on our patio.
The drawer pulls were removed and well as the drawer dividers.
Someone labeled all of the drawer with roman numerals which was very helpful when putting the desk back together.
I have a feeling that this big desk has moved from place to place a number of times over the years.
The desk needed a few repairs, mainly just gluing loose pieces back in place.
At home we use clamps when making repairs but since we had no clamps at the lake, we improvised with tie-down straps to hold the glued piece in place until the glue dried.
A few pieces here and there had a loose nail.
A quick tap with the hammer is always an easy repair.
Repairing the Drawer
The middle drawer pretty much came apart as we worked on it.
Glue was all it needed to be repaired.
At home we would have used right angle positioning squares in each desk corner along with clamps to keep the desk square as the glue dried.
We improvised with another tie-down strap and paint cans to weight down the drawer.
We removed the desk drawer lock in preparation for sanding the drawer.
We don’t have the key to this lock, so it’s only for looks.
Sanding the Desk
After the glue was dry, it was time to sand the desk.
We used 220 grit sandpaper and our favorite Dewalt orbital sander.
Mr. SP worked on the desktop while I worked on the drawers.
Since it was large, the desktop took a good bit of time to sand.
Isn’t the grain of the wood beautiful?
Our lake neighbor, Don, loaned us his identical sander so that we could work on the desk at the same time.
I actually enjoy sanding because it is rewarding to see the old finish disappear before your eyes.
I used a mouse sander to sand the corners. This is a super handy sander to own for sanding tight spots.
I love a good before and after. Here is a desk drawer before sanding.
Here is is after sanding.
The drawer dividers were glued in place, so I couldn’t remove them to stain and sand them.
Refinishing the Desk
We moved the desk inside for refinishing.
The desk was stained with one coat of General Finishes Gel Stain in Brown Mahogandy.
I purchased a pint of this stain and used about half of the container to stain all of the desk pieces.
The stain was applied using a piece of an old cotton t-shirt.
I used this same stain when I made over the vintage teacher’s desk that I use in my home office.
The next weekend the desk pieces were sealed with General Finishes Top Coat.
The desktop got two coats and the other desk pieces just one coat.
For the topcoat, I applied it with a sponge brush.
The gold feet on the desk were refreshed with a touch of Rub ‘n Buff in Antique Gold.
Be sure to wear latex gloves when applying Rub ‘n Buff as it is a pain to clean your hands if you don’t.
Fabricating a New Drawer Handle
While I worked on staining the desk, Mr. SP made a handle for the desk drawer that was missing one.
He made the handle using a scrap of pine left over from framing the family room windows.
First the wood was ripped to the width of the handle using the table saw.
Then the table saw blade was set to the same angle as the handle bottom to cut the bottom bevel.
The process was repeated to set the saw blade angle to match the handle’s top bevel.
A saber saw was used to cut the wood to the rough shape of the original handle.
The rough cut handle was sanded to the proper dimensions and rounded the corners.
The table saw was then used (in ways a table saw is not supposed to be used) to hollow out the back for the finger groove.
The missing handle is now complete and ready to be painted.
This is the back of the newly fabricated handle.
Here are all of the handles before they were painted.
When I refinished my teacher’s desk, I painted the desk handles black and loved that look, so I did the same thing for this desk.
I used the same paint, Black Tie from The Plaster Paint Company.
This paint needs sealing, so after the paint dried, I waxed the handles with Annie Sloan wax leftover from my furniture makeover days.
The End Result
Come into our family room and see this vintage office desk in its new home.
Side Note: The second handrail will be removed this week and wallpaper is going up! You can see the wallpaper we are using in this post.
This spot is going to be great to use when working from the lake.
The desk chair has been in my basement waiting patiently to be used for many years.
I purchased it from a neighbor’s yard sale and we replaced the wheels and refinished it.
The desk faces the stairway wall but the lake is easily seen through the window beside the pallet wood dog and also through the double doors.
Mr. SP will primarily be using this desk.
When working from the lake, he currently uses the kitchen table and the antique barbershop chairs around the table are not comfortable for sitting on for long periods of time.
My grandfather refinished the table for me and gave it to me to use in my first college apartment. He also refinished and wove new seats for the chairs.
The globe on the desk is pre-WWII and belonged to my grandmother.
I purchased the bookends in Richmond at a vet’s office who was treating our friend’s dog for cancer.
The proceeds from the bookends go to help dog owners who can’t afford cancer treatment for their dog to get it.
I didn’t see a link on the vet’s office website, but I’ll bet that if you call the office, they’d be happy to sell a pair of bookends like mine to you.
The desk lamp is from Ikea. I couldn’t find it on their website but I did find this one that is similar on Amazon.
I had Sherman’s portrait painted for Mr. SP when he was a still a pup.
The mug was a Christmas gift from Mr. SP.
The desk has so much storage space.
Mr. SP will be able to keep everything he needs to work inside the drawers leaving the workspace open for his laptop and monitor.
We both love how this desk looks in our family room and I know that Mr. SP is going to enjoy working from it with a lake view.
If you want to see more of our lake house, you can click here.