Antique Child's School Desk, Open

Woodwork | Giving It a Once-Over

64 Arts

In my garage is a sad, neglected little table that has served me well over many years. It started its life as a child’s school desk. Growing up, it was my bedside table for most of my childhood and early adult-hood. When I graduate to a proper nightstand, it served as an entry table to catch keys and mail and whatever else. Inside it I stored owners manuals, take-out menus, show programs, and whatever else it would hold.

Antique Child's School Desk, Open

Except on the many occasions I’d stuffed it far too full of whatever I considered a keepsake at the time and the bottom gave way. The original bottom–tacked back into place many times–finally gave up the ghost and a piece of scrap wood was attached so it could still serve as a hidey-hole, but the message is clear: this desk needs a makeover!

Makeshift replacement bottom of an antique child's schooldesk

But why now? Well, I have a very special job for this little desk. Next fall, when Todd and I get married, this desk will be tasked with holding our programs for our guests and it will need to look its best.

Top of the antique child's school desk, scarred and stained

So here’s  my game-plan:

  1. Clean the surfaces. There’s layers of dust and pieces of at least one sticker on its surface and all that needs to come away before anything else is done to it.
  2. Remove the current, ill-matched bottom and have Todd help me find a better piece of wood to replace it with.
  3. Strip what’s left of the current finish. There’s no telling what varnish might be left underneath the dust, but I have a feeling it’s mostly worn away.
  4. Sand smooth any rough patches.
  5. Fit the bottom piece into place as seamlessly as possible.
  6. Stain the entire thing. I can tell from the bottom of the lid that the original finish was a golden brown of some hue, we’ll decide when we get it all cleaned up how dark we want to go, though.

The hardware (2 hinges) might be worth saving and reusing, the seem to be in pretty good shape, now. We’ll see.

This isn’t going to be an overnight project, but we might be able to knock some of it out over the coming holiday weekend. And you know I’ll show you the “after” pictures once we have some!

Until then, I hope you have a thankful Thanksgiving (those of you in the US). If you’re still planning your menu, consider the Apple Mallow Sweet Potato Bake a possible side-dish (at my food blog, Nibbles ‘n Bites).