Monday, April 18, 2011

Refinishing the desk

We bought a desk for our new place (yes, more on that later). It's not too deep, which we like, and it has a hutch. I know hutches can get cluttered, but our hope is that we can make this an organized, usable space (and also potentially not have to get another bookshelf).

The desk is solid wood. While we like the shape, form, and functionality of the desk, we don't like the color or hardware. I thought about painting it, but sigh, it's solid, beautiful wood in good condition. I wanted to try refinishing first to see how it'd turn out.

Of course, upon the desk arriving in our new place, the cats had to inspect.

With the feline curiosity satisfied, I set to work. I'm not done, but here is the progress so far.

I took all the drawer hardware pieces (the wood knobs) off. The goal is to completely replace those.

Then I sanded down each of the drawers. The stain does not penetrate too far, so I can do this without hurting the integrity of the wood. If I had to guess, it's a pine desk. Pine's a soft wood, so that made sanding easier.

Here are all the drawers with their faces sanded. I did not sand the sides. You don't see the sides! I decided instead to slap some stain on the sides when I stained, that way the stain darkens a LITTLE bit, without me having to go to the trouble of sanding.

After sanding down, first with medium grit 100 sandpaper and then 220 fine sandpaper, I brushed all the wood bits off and then wet the wood with water. I didn't soak it, just wet it. This raises the grain of the wood as it dries. Then, when you sand again with the 22o, you know you're getting a super smooth finish.

I wiped and wiped and wiped to get all the wood bits off. Then: Time for the stain!

I decided to try something new: Jacobean stain by Minwax. I'd used Minwax's products before, but never Jacobean. It appeared to be darker than their walnut and mahogany stains, but not as dark as the ebony stain. That's what I wanted: dark stain, but still able to see the wood grain. I also didn't want any red tint to the stain since the wood floors in that area of the house are more reddish-colored.

And here are the drawer results! They're both the same color; forgive the flash of the lower drawer.

I really like the stain.

The desk has a lot more work I need to do on it. The fact that a) we're moving and b) it's been POURING outside for the past week both have greatly inhibited my ability to work on this project. Now that we're at a semi-standstill on the moving (you can only pre-pack so much) and today seems sunny, maybe I'll hack away at the next step on this project.

The next step: The hutch. The hutch has a backing on it that is held in place with heavy-duty staples. My goal is to undo those staples and remove the entire back of the hutch. Not permanently; just to give me better access to sanding and staining the shelves and getting in those nooky corners.

Once everything is sanded and stained, the next job is to determine if a second coat of stain is needed. Then comes the polyurethane finish. I'm thinking that will wait until the desk is in the new house and in an area that won't be disturbed too much. I really don't want dust or fur or smudges on the finish.

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