Mr. Q crossed state lines (to Wisconsin) a week or two ago to pick up this desk for me.
I thought the vertical trim on the corners was lovely. I knew that a little paint would really bring out those details.
First step was having Ken work on the structural integrity. He glued up some joints and replaced all of the screws holding the top on. He also had to re-glue a couple of the drawers. Once that was done, I stripped the top. You can see in this next photo that there was a shadow on the top of this desk. I suspect that there was a desk pad in place for a long time and as a result the desk top faded all around it, but not under it.
After stripping, I sanded this some by hand. Since it’s veneer, I didn’t want to sand too heavily and sand right through it. If I had been able to completely eliminate that shadow, I would have then just waxed the top. However, although it was diminished somewhat, I could still see it. So I decided to stain the top to help even out the color. I added two coats of Varathane gel stain in Dark Walnut. Since I am far from being an expert wood stainer, I really like working with a gel stain. They are super easy to apply, I just wear gloves to avoid staining my hands too, and then use an old t-shirt to rub the stain on. I find that I can work the stain without it getting streaky or uneven. I waited 24 hours and then added a couple of coats of Minwax Wipe on Poly in clear satin using that same technique. I don’t usually use a poly, but I do like it for desk tops that might get a fair amount of wear.
Unfortunately that shadow is still there. Perhaps I should have tried bleaching that area a little. Or, I cold have gone with a really dark stain like Java gel. But although the shadow is obvious when the desk top is empty, once there are a few things on top it’s not so glaring.
Another problem this desk suffered from was ‘ring around the drawer pull’.
See that groove worn into the wood around the drawer pull? That is from the pull being too loose and spinning around, thus wearing that groove into the wood. So sad. Usually when you see this problem it’s because the escutcheon pin is missing from the drawer pull. On many old pieces of furniture with this type of pull, there is a tiny little nail that holds the back plate stationary so that it won’t spin. Those are often long gone on older pieces. However, in this case there were never any pins. The handles had just been allowed to work loose over time and no one took the time to tighten them up.
I added a little wood filler to all of those circular grooves and then sanded them smooth so that when I painted the dresser they wouldn’t be quite as obvious. You can still see them if you look closely, but they are far less obvious …
I sanded all of the flat surfaces lightly before painting, but I didn’t sand the detailed corners at all. I was hoping for some chipping! As it turns out I was hoping in vain; I didn’t get any chipping at all. I even tried my masking tape trick (using tape to pull the paint off creating more chipping) and nada. This is Miss Mustard Seed’s Typewriter milk paint by the way, and it’s finished with hemp oil.
I also painted the back of this desk.
The desk is trimmed out all the way around so that the back is presentable and could face out, so I went ahead and painted it too. The middle piece of that back was positively calling out for a stencil, so I couldn’t resist using my new “Jardin de Fleurs” stencil there.
I used Martha Stewart acrylic craft paint in Grey Wolf. I’ve mentioned this before, but when I stencil on black I don’t like to use white paint because the contrast is too heavy. The Grey Wolf is actually a medium grey, but on the black it reads as ‘white’ without being too harsh.
One final fix that I thought I would share with you is replacing the doodads that keep the drawers from pushing in too far. You know, these things …
I think I’ve established that I often don’t know the proper names of tools and other hardware. I get a lot of funny looks at my local Menards store when I ask the employees if they have those ‘metal thingamajigs that keep the drawers from getting pushed in too far’ or ‘that tool with the slide-y thing on the ruler’. I was never able to find these at any of my local hardware stores, but I did ultimately find them online at VanDyke’s Restorers. And by the way, they are called ‘drawer stops’ (duh) and there are two different styles that I see fairly regularly in vintage furniture.
This desk has the type that are on the right. You are better off replacing like with like because the grooves they go in are different sizes.
And here’s what it looks like when one is missing.
It’s quite simple to just pound another one into that groove.
I had a lot of the props from my photos of the faux card catalogue handy including my chalk board, so I used them again.
It works perfectly with this desk, but unfortunately the cane seat is in very bad shape. It would be cute with a little skirted seat cover, but I am sadly lacking in sewing skills! I just keep the chair around to use as a prop with desks.
The jardin de fleurs desk is available for local sale. If interested leave a comment and I’ll get back to you with the particulars.