Oak Desk Re-do: Part 2 & Reveal!

Thursday, January 3, 2013 -

Here's the rest of the story... FINALLY! This week was a little busier than I thought it was going to be, but never the less, I got this puppy done. In case you forgot what it looked like before HERE is the before.

While I was striping my top (that sounds bad) I went ahead and gave the rest of the body a good sanding. I wasn't concerned with striping the finish off since I knew I was going to paint, and because when I wanted a little bleed through for the look I was going with. I was really just focusing on getting all the loose, flaking bits off. 

Now I got to the fun part. Anyone who has brought a baby boy home from the hospital knows why I have a big ole tub of petroleum jelly under my sink. I've seen ladies distress with Vasaline several times and since I was going for a chippy look on this desk I decided to give it a shot.

I didn't go too crazy with it since this was my first time using it. Just a little around the edges, where you would see natural wear. Not to get on my soap box, but this makes me think of all the furniture painters out there that want something to look old, so the just scrape half the paint off in oh-too-perfect patterns. Paint typically doesn't wear off from the middle of a recessed panel. You know what I'm saying? I just think the whole goal of distressing is to make something look like it got that way all by itself. ... But I digress.

Since a piece of one of the drawer faces met a tragic end, I had to fabricate two new matching ones. Too bad a don't have a table saw...Oh wait! Yes, I do. I have such a thoughtful husband. He bought me this awesome table saw for Christmas! "I bet you wouldn't be interested in this old second-hand job I've got would you?"

I cut my pieces down to size with my new saw. I needed to sand the edges down a little before using the router on them. Sand before router you say? Why? See this little edge where the blade didn't cut so cleanly? If I left that edge, the router would track right over it and cut it into the top as well.

So a little sanding never killed me... yet.

I may do a tutorial on my routeing technique down the road. I came up with a pretty clever way to rout out the trough detail on these faces. Nothing super fancy, but to me they looked similar enough to the original faces.

While I was measuring, I went ahead and drilled a small hole for the knob too. I struggle getting it centered once the face is attached.

Here's the paint I used. Yes, spray paint. I had a couple of very good reasons why I went with spray paint. First, since I was using the Vasalene I didn't want to brush over it, contaminating my brush, other areas of the piece, and possibly my unused paint. Secondly, I knew I wanted to paint some the the underside of the desk and painting with a brush upside down should be illegal. Do I use spray paint very often? No. Would I ever use it on a horizontal surface (like a table top)? No. But all spray paint is, is oil-based enamel  and as long as you get a decent brand, it's actually quite durable.

When I sprayed the paint over the Vasaline crazy stuff started to happen

If this were my first rodeo I might get a little freaked out. It was splotchy and wanting to drip. That's my only complaint about this method. If you're not careful and spray the paint on too heavy over the Vasaline, it will just run off, creating drips. Fortunately, I pretty much kept my Vasaline to the edges, so any drips were on the edges and easily wiped off.

The second coat took care of the splotchy-ness. I will definately be using this method to distress again! Not only did I get paint resistance (areas where the paint doesn't stick and so easily sands off and chips), but where I very lightly applied the Vasaline, it created almost a alligator skin, blistered, look. Very cool and very authentic to old paint.

Next came the sanding. I busted out the good ole 60 grit since I really wanted to remove some paint. The Vasaline made that job really easy.

Next came the glaze. I always custom mix my glaze. You can buy pre-mixed glaze, which is really nice for continuity on multiple items, but I like the freedom I get from mixing my own. That way I can control my color saturation and tweak with tones better. I usually use a mix of univeral tint and plain ole acrylic craft paint.  You don't want too much paint in the mix otherwise it becomes too opaque.More on glaze some other time. This time it was about 10% Raw Umber tint and 10% black paint to the glaze.

After 2 coats of Polyacrylic and drying time the body was done. I had to do a little modifying to get the drawers to fit onto the new faces. The old ones had been rabbeted in, so I had to cut off the old tongues.

Using the greatest too ever (a.k.a. Kreg Jig), I added some pocket holes to the drawer boxes.

Drawer faces then were screwed to the boxes. It went pretty fast thanks to the pocket holes.

On went the top, using the previous screws and holes.

And ta-da! There she is.

I really like the way this one came out. I love the unique lines of the apron. I pretty proud of the drawer faces too.

I stuck with the original hardware for the center drawer, but since the other two were broken anyways, I switched to antique brass knobs. Remember how I said I wanted this to look "antique-y"? Well, the brass adds to that I think. I think brass gets an unfair reputation these days. Plus, from what I'm seeing from magazines and such, it looks like brass is making a slight comeback. At least the cool, old world looking finished kind. I think we've all been scared from the shiny fake brass of the 80's and 90's.

I'm digging the subtle chippy-ness and the exposed grain.

From this angle you can see the slight shadowing on the corners of the top.

Wouldn't she look great as a console table in the entry? Or maybe as a desk in the guestroom? The couple I bought it from was originally using it as a TV stand in there bedroom.



  1. Great Job! I found you on Ana'a site and I am your newest follower! Thanks for sharing!

  2. This desk is lovely! very inspirational.

    As a side note, I have a boy but I've never used petroleum jelly on him. What is it used for?

  3. I love this desk makeover, it's so lovely. Thanks for the inspiration!

    As a side note, I have a boy but I've never used petroleum jelly on him. What is it used for?

  4. Sorry for the double post, eek!

  5. You do awesome work!


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