Mr. Don Draper Desk {With DIY Hardware}

Thursday, May 23, 2013 -

If I'm watching AMC, most definitely The Walking Dead is on, but I've caught a few Mad Men episodes as well. You know how when you work on a piece and random thoughts blow through? While working on this new adventure, "Fly Me to the Moon" by Frank Sinatra was the only track on my brain's playlist (I don't even when's the last time I heard that song!), and I kept having visions of the very manly, Don Draper.

This desk had humble beginnings. Literally. Not only was it orange and beat to heck, but it was missing it's typical, mid-century spindle legs, making it humble- or low to the ground if you watch Charlotte's Web.

It's built of hardwood and it actually had a large, drafting table attachment, hinged on the back as well.

I picked it up from a really cool lady named Shelly (hi Shelly!). Her house was FILLED with awesome "before" and "after" furniture. Very talented lady. Anyways, I was so caught up talking to Shelly, that I hardly got to look at the piece before I loaded up and took him home.

 I knew I would be constructing new legs, but when I started to take this thing apart, I realized it needed a lot of work! The top was gouged and scratched pretty heavily, there was crack down one side, and almost all of the drawers needed work. It wasn't anything I couldn't handle, and I got it for so cheap, I can't complain too much.

I'll write a tutorial on how I made the legs soon. (UPDATE: See the tutorial here )

I took off the drafting table and put it aside for another day. After removing the drawer pulls, it was time to strip the drawer faces. After sanding all the old finish off, I wiped on one coat of a mystery stain I had mixed long ago. I think it was Golden Pecan and Antique Walnut.

After it dried, I decided it was a bit too orange for me, so I brushed on a coat of tinted Polyacrylic to tone it down. I simply mixed a small amount of Raw Umber tint and a few drops of dark blue acrylic paint. The result was subtle, but what I wanted. Cooled things off just a little.

I brushed on two more coats of Polyacrylic to seal the finish well, and then it was time to tackle the body. I wanted to go with a dark, cool grey, so I mixed up a couple colors of latex paint I had.

Originally, I thought I would just spray on a couple coats, seal it and call it a day, but Mr. Draper had other plans for me! I realized that the top would HAVE to get sanded down. The gouges were just too bad to paint over. Additional seasoning with the belt sander was required. I could write an entire post on the trouble I had with my paint gun (lets just say it involved a twin, a spring, lots of spilled paint, and ultimately blasting my husband with a loaded paint gun).

I ended up getting my gun to work well enough to paint most of the body, but ended up brushing the top. After drying overnight, I brushed on three coats of water-based polyurethane in satin.

The old hardware had to go. I've mentioned before that I'm not a huge MCM fan, plus I'm pretty sure they are made of some kind of plastic. The spacing for the holes was an unusual size, and I didn't like anything I could find to fit, online or locally. I decided to try something I've been scheming for a while. I LOVE how they turned out! Can you tell what they are?

Yep, U-bolts. They are solid steel, have their own nuts and  back plate, come in tons of sizes, and are CHEAP! These ones are for a 2 1/2 in pipe and cost around $1.30 each at Lowe's. They also make square ones (I don't know if they have a different name) that I want to try out some other time.

To attach them to the drawers, I just had to drill out the existing holes with a larger drill bit, but before I could install them, I had to trim down the length. I "borrowed" my husbands bench vise and angle grinder. I've cut down bolts before, so it wasn't too hard.

Don't be intimidated by a grinder! You can pick up a cheap one from Harbor Freight, and they are pretty useful when your need to cut or shape metal. Just make sure to use some welding gloves and a face shield (also cheap at Harbor Freight). Just remember, the metal gets REALLY hot but the sparks won't hurt you!

I got all the drawer pulls on, and the desk reassembled, but it was missing something. It still looked unfinished to me. I headed back to the hardware store to find something else to spice Mr. Draper up.

I picked up some 1/16 in thick by 1/2 inch wide aluminum strip. They only had 6 ft lengths at Lowe's and they cost around $6 each. Using the edge of the desk top as a guide, my husband helped me bend the aluminum around the outside edge of the top.

I then evenly marked spots and drilled holes using a very small (maybe a 1/16 in) drill bit.

Once all drilled, I applied this glue to the inside of the aluminum trim. I've never used this kind before, but it said it dries fast and works on metal.

I then grabbed some nail head tacks I had leftover from this project. I hammered them in through the pre-drilled holes. You could use regular tacks too and I think it would look cool.

Since the piece of aluminum I had wasn't long enough to wrap all the way around, I had to cut some small strips from another piece and attach them to the sides.

Once that was done, I stood back and took a look. That's it!

Clean and  masculine, just like the Hollywood Don Draper.

What do you think? I think the WHOLE enchilada cost me around $40.

I love how the trim turned out! It looks like rivets to me. I will be trying this technique again, and probably at a larger scale. The Restoration Hardware catalog is flashing through my mind right now. Any good inspiration?

Find him under my shop tab.

Linking at:

Liz Marie BlogThe Shabby NestPhotobucketMarigolds' LoftAll Things with PurposeThePinJunkieFidlin' Fridays Link PartyPhotobucket craftionary Furniture Feature FridaysDIY Blog Classy ClutterThree Mango Seeds photo 100_3353aaabbbb144copy_zps0998a8b5.jpgHome Stories A to ZBWS tips button homework The DIY Dreamer

.Throwback Thursday


  1. I love those handles. The whole thing turned out great. You are good!!

  2. Your desk turned out so great. I love it...and the handles...pure genius. I did a dresser a while back that i named Megan, as in Megan Draper. I think they'd go fabulously together :)

  3. Wow. Very Cool! I'm really into the MCM thing (not for me, but it sells quick in the LA area). Plus, the mcm stuff is so much fun to work on!! Love them straight, flat surfaces! Anyway, thanks for
    the extra ideas. Very innovative. Loving the strip around the top.

  4. Gorgeous desk! Found you from Nifty Thrify Things. New follower. You can visit me at
    Wanda Ann @ Memories by the Mile

  5. This is awesomeness!!! It looks like a really expensive piece of furniture. I love it.

    Stephanie @

  6. This is a beautiful piece! I love the repurposed drawer handles---I may have to use your idea with a future project! The piece is so masculine and industrial. I really dig the aluminum top too. Wonderful job!

  7. Wow, what a transformation. I love it. This is totally amazing. Love the trim and the hardware. Thanks so much for joining Inspire Me. Hugs, marty

  8. Awesome job on the desk!!! The DIY hardware is brilliant! Love it! Would love it if you would link this up to Give Me The Goods Monday: 1 Party, 4 Blogs!
    Jenna @ Rain on a Tin Roof

  9. Wow what an amazing change, almost not recognizable :)
    Thanks so much for linking up week for week, I look forward to seeing what you share with us this week on Tutorial Thursdays Linky Party.
    Marigolds' Loft

  10. Wow... The table is not even close to being recognized.. Love it!

  11. Excellent work and a great result... Bravo!

  12. Love it!!!
    Amy @

  13. You did a great job on this desk! I'm featuring it in today's link party. Hop on over to get your featured button!

  14. Loved this!!! You were my pick for features at Give Me The Goods!
    Come by and grab your feature button!!!
    Dimples & Pig Tales

  15. Thanks for sharing last week at the Friday Follow Along. Please come link up at at the Lovely Linky

  16. I love that paint color on Mr. Draper! I've been trying to find a color like that!
    Could you possibly share the color name? :)

  17. I love that color on Mr. Draper!
    I've been trying to find a color like that! Could you possible share the name?

    1. I wish I could! It's just a concoction I mixed up from left over paint. Sorry!

  18. LUV the industrial look to the desk now, Elisha. Gorgeous work. ;-)

  19. I love this Elisha! So sleek and modern looking... and some really creative ideas for the drawer pulls and the trim on top! Thanks for linking this up to Throwback Thursday! :)

  20. I left you a comment but it disappeared. :( I love this desk- you had some very creative ideas! Thank you for sharing it at Throwback Thursday!

  21. Hey girl- your desk is my feature pick tonight for the Throwback Thursday party! Congrats! :)


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