6&7 August 2013- Saga of the Desk

As promised, the story of refinishing the desk.

Saturday 27 July- We picked up the desk from my grandfather’s house. We were going to pick it up several days before, but we got a call from my grandpa telling us that we couldn’t come pick it up because “I don’t have all the drawers cleared out yet, and I don’t want to go through everything in boxes, I’d rather go through it in the drawers, because I have important documents in there and I…” etcetera, etcetera, ad nauseum.

Okay, fine. We won’t come pick it up.

When we finally did get there, there was still a drawer full of papers (my aunt just told me to throw it in a box…) and bits of red glitter EVERYWHERE. Keep that in mind, because the red glitter shows up later…

Anyway, we got it to our house, but after a couple of hours sitting in the middle of our living room, we decided that it needed a makeover before it had a permanent place in our house.

The blonde desk without its drawers

The blonde desk without its drawers


This is the point where I digress for a moment to tell a little bit about the desk’s history. It was purchased second hand by my great grandparents in Colorado sometime in the 1940’s or 50’s (as far as my grandfather can remember). By that time, it had already been “refurbished” by the original owners from an antique desk to a “modern” art deco design. Jause, that’s hot.

Drawers with art deco handles

Drawers with art deco handles

My grandfather can’t remember whether or not it was carted with them to Iran and the Philippines (my great grandfather worked for the Department of Agriculture and Utah State University on aid projects throughout the world), but considering the fact that their piano (now in my uncle’s home in Montana), and several other pieces of furniture (some in my parents’ home) were all carted around the world, my grandpa thinks that it probably went too. (Wow, that’s a long sentence.)

After the gallivanting around the world was finished, it sat in my great grandfather’s study for the rest of his life. After his death, it was inherited by my grandfather, and sat in his home for as long as I can remember (which means it was probably there at least 25-30 years, if not more).

That brings us back to the present day.

Sunday 28 July- We took the desk to my parents’ house, to sit in their garage, where we could make good use of their several sanders and have an open-air space in which to do all sorts of messy work.

Monday 29 July- We started sanding the desk down.The Dumb Blonde color was soon gone in clouds of sawdust, and as we took out all of the drawers, we found even MORE red glitter. Don’t worry, we haven’t seen the last of the glitter yet.

Tuesday 30 July- We finished a few last minute spots to sand, and dropped our little guy off with grandma and headed to Lowe’s to find stain and drawer hardware. After probably half an hour of discussion and vacillating back and forth between different stains, we chose the dark cherry, which looked like a dark red wood both on the can and the sample.

Fantastic! We have our stain chosen, and now have only the hardware to choose! Right? Wrong. It was not that simple.

We toddled on over to the hardware to pick out the handles we wanted. Oh, but wait, 98% of the drawer pulls come with the screws spaced three inches apart, and the original drawer pulls on the desk were two and a half inches apart… problem.

After a great deal of wondering what we were going to do about the spacing discrepancy, and saying “will any of this hardware even look good with our stain?”

So, off to the other home improvement store. Hello Home Depot! Oh, you have an even worse selection of hardware? Ooookay… back to Lowe’s! That hardware looks great but maybe not with our stain…? Oh well, we’ll get them. Oh, and they’re three inch handles? Oh well, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. 

We get back and begin staining the desk with our beautiful dark cherry stain. GORGEOUS! Oh, but wait, are you sure we didn’t get the grape popsicle stain, because this stuff is a pretty shade of… purple? Yeah, not good. Catastrophe Number One.

So we had to wait until the stain dried to sand the stained bits again (is that more red glitter?). Luckily it was only applied to the back of the desk, so we didn’t have to sand the WHOLE thing again.

So we went back to Lowe’s (remember that this is trip number three to this store, trip number four to just any home improvement store) to get new stain. We chose the lovely Kona color (whatever the heck “Kona” is). Just for a frame of reference, it’s darker than a dark walnut but is lighter than an ebony color. Lucky for us the hardware looked better with this stain (it actually looks great), but more on that in just a second.

We put the stain on (it looked beautiful), and applied the satin finish. So far so good right? Wrong. Remember the issue with the handles? Oh yeah, the original hardware holes are too far apart…let’s drill new holes to fix it! Great, because that takes a lot of careful measuring (something I’m NOT good at) and copious amounts of checking and rechecking. Mostly because I’m not great at measuring (which makes no sense, but oh well).

Anyway, because the long screws were too long (by about an eighth of an inch) and the short screws were too short (by about an eighth of an inch), so we had to drill additional holes in the insides of the drawers (about  a third of an inch in diameter and about a quarter of an inch deep) so that the short screws would be able to go through the wood and anchor in the hardware.

So, as we were attaching the hardware–lo and behold!–one of the screws broke off inside the handle… yippee. OFF TO LOWE’S AGAIN! [Insert mutinous grumblings here.]

The finished desk in our house

The finished desk in our house

So, with that, the desk was ready! On Wednesday the 31st, we were able to bring it home, and it now is sitting very nicely in our front room!

The finished desk with stuff on it

The finished desk with stuff on it

And that is the end of the saga of the desk. Now hopefully I can get the pictures to upload… like I’ve been trying to do for two days now… >:(

P.S. We are still finding immortal red glitter in our carpet… I told you it’d come up later.

One thought on “6&7 August 2013- Saga of the Desk

  1. Pingback: Pictures | Branson Roskelley

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *