Restoring & Refinishing a 100 Year Old Desk

I found this desk at a local shop here in Maine and thought it would be perfect for this idea that’s been bouncing around in my head for weeks now. A beautifully restored dark wood with nothing but gold leafed details!

First thing to be done is any cleaning, removing of hardware and just general prep work. I am going to keep this hardware but I’ll need to take it off as I plan to gold leaf it.

Now for the sanding. The desk had a pretty serious scratch on top and it was going to require some heavy sanding to level out the wood. Because of this I started out with my belt sander to do the heavy work.

My Ryobi Belt Sander

And now that the heavy sanding is done I brought the piece back inside to finish sanding with my Surf Prep sander which I absolutely love. I will leave all the links to all of these products throughout the blog and list it together in the end. You can get the Surf Prep sanding system here and use code KACHA 10 for a 10% discount at checkout!

I couldn’t really sand the highly detailed legs of this desk so I decided to go with CitriStrip paint stripper for them. What I like to do is cover my stripper in some clear wrap for 15 minutes or so then use some Steel Wool and Mineral Spirits to remove the stain. This worked great for me and is a great alternative to having to sand those small details by hand!

Another step I always do after I sand is to go over everything with Mineral Spirits on some Steel Wool. This not only picks up anything we didn’t get after cleaning but it also helps condition the wood and open up the pours for our stain. It’s a very important step when your getting ready to stain!

Wipe everything down with Mineral Spirits before staining.

Now we are ready to stain. I am using MinWax Gel Stain in Walnut. Working with a Gel Stain will give you more coverage much quicker than using a traditional stain. It should also be more uniform because of its heavier pigment. I used this staining pad to go over it when I finished staining to pick up any excess, a very important step. When doing this try and keep your strokes long and try to avoid going over them.

To protect the stain I went with Varathane Polyurethane. It provides tough protection. I do keep my strokes straight and long and avoid overworking it.

Now it’s time to start making our Re-Design with Prima Decor Moulds! I ended up using this 2 part resin from amazon. It’s pretty simple to use by mixing equal parts of its two part solution and pouring it into your mould. In 10 minutes you are done and ready to for use!

Pour equal parts of A & B
Mix them together well
Pour over your mould and wait 10 mins

I made enough copies of these for my entire project and it was time to give them their “Pop” with some gold leafing! This is going to make them stand out and I just love the intensity it gives! I applied this Gold Leaf with this Glue.

To Gold Leaf the details of the desk I used a small detail brush to apply some glue. Be sure to let this dry a second before applying the gold leaf on to it. I like to fan it with whatever I have laying near by. Once it’s dry you can attach your gold leaf to it. I like to finish it off with a soft brush to get all the extra gold leaf off.

And for the Moulds we made earlier I used E-6000 glue to attack those on. I used one style for the border of the top and one style for the borders of the drawers and it looked fabulous!

As a final step to seal the gold leaf, I applied this gold leaf sealer from Hobby Lobby.

It was time to add the old hardware back on and put the drawers back in place. I took a step back to take it all in and oh my, what a beauty! Everything from the walnut wood grain to the gold touches was just perfect in my opinion. Here are some final looks of the piece, I hope you guys enjoyed watching my process! You can watch the video to this piece of furniture by clicking here or heading over to my YouTube channel! Check out the list to all the products below!

Here is a list of all the products used for this project!

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