This is going to be a two-part DIY. I will talk about the table this month and hopefully next month I will tell you all about what I did with the rest of the desk!
My mom has had this ceader desk in her basement for the last few years. It belonged to my grandfather, my mom says he has had it for as long as she can remember. It’s a beautiful piece of furniture but its one of the heaviest I have ever encountered. There are two sets of drawers, one on each side of where you would sit. The left side of drawers has a place for a typewriter…not something I would use…ever. When my mom said I could have the desk to do with what i wanted, I took my time deciding what that would be. I was terrified of trying to take it apart, for good reason! I finally come to the conclusion that I would take the top part of the desk off and make it into a kitchen table, because we don’t have one in our new apartment!
I was incredibly intimated by taking this desk apart so it sat in my parent’s garage for a few months. I emailed a family friend who does a lot of wood working and told him about the desk. He came by the house and looked at it with me. He thought we would need to use a mallet to get the top off. We scheduled for him to come back another day so we could really get into taking the beast apart.
When he came back, it only took him a few minutes to get the top off! It was screwed on pretty tightly but once all of the screws were off, the top came right off the rest of the desk! Now it was time to make this table my own. Here is what I did:
- Premium Varnish Remover. I ended up using three different kinds. I would recommend this one, it does the best job.
- plastic scraper or tile float
- drop cloth (or you can be cheap like me and use a dollar store shower curtain. Does just as good of as job and is worth the price to throw away when you are done)
- Steel Wool
- 20 grit sand paper (this is key!)
- New finish, first three coats, last coat (I decided to go with a clear finish. I used two kinds and loved how it turned out!)
- Legs-so cheap from IKEA!
- After I got the top off the desk, I put the piece of wood on top of a toolbox which had a drop cloth (aka my dollar store shower curtain) under it. I wanted to make sure that any mess was caught on the curtain and could be thrown out when I was 100% done.
- I ended up using three different brands of finish remover, just because I kept running out and went back to the store two more times. I ended up using 4 cans of remover in total. Turns out you use more of it than you think. I sprayed the table with the stripper and let it sit the required 15 minutes. (Don’t use the brand in the picture, it was bad)
- Once the 15 minutes was over, I used the scraper to scrape the nasty old finish the remover had gotten off. The first brand of remover didn’t do a very good job, which is why I had to go buy more. The second brand did a really good job and got the rest of it off.
- Once I got all of the old finish off, I sanded down the entire table with the steel wool.
- I then used one of the new spray on finishes and put two coats on the table.
- This is where I messed up BAD. Avoid having to do this by reading this closely! I then decided to sand down the table with the steel wool (bad idea) and then put on the last coat of finish (even worse idea!). The table looked horrible once it dried. There were blotches everywhere, and I was mad!
- This is where the third brand of remover, Citristrip, came in. I bought it to remove the now terrible looking finish I had sprayed on. It took all of the finish off in one try. Definitely a keeper!
- I also bought some 20 grit sandpaper on that last run to the store. After two coats of the Minwax finish, I lightly sanded the table down with the sandpaper and made sure to clean all of the dust off. I then used one coat of the Watco finish. This made the table nice and shiny!
- Once the table was dry, I flipped it over to attach the legs. I bought the cheap legs from IKEA that come with the screws so it was easy to attach them!
- All done! I now have a beautiful table for our apartment!