Monday, 8 June 2020

Old Schoolteacher's Desk - More Furniture Upcycling

Hello - hope you are keeping well and not too fed up with social distancing and lockdown.  I'm spending much of my lockdown time upcycling old furniture in readiness for a house move.  Here's my latest project...

I found this old schoolteacher's desk about 8 or 9 years ago on Freecycle.  At the time, I wanted a sturdy table for my sewing machine, and this was perfect for that.  The drawers didn't fit properly, but I didn't really need them at the time, so they sat in a slightly damp garage for a while, which may have made the fit even worse.  However, this is a really sturdy piece of solid wooden furniture and was worthy of so much more.

Fast forward a few years, and we are now downsizing to a house half the size we are currently living in.  I didn't want to get rid of this desk - I really like it - and thought it might make a lovely, if slightly quirky, dining table for our new home.

I sanded it back and realised the top had ink stains beyond what could be considered acceptable.  It was going to have to be painted. The diagonal stain across the top left in the above picture was just an ink stain too far!  It was much darker in real life than it seems in the photo.  There were splits in the table top too, which needed filling.

I painted the table top first with a stain blocker.  It's horrible stuff to paint with but it really does a good job in blocking out pretty much all kinds of stains.  I lost count of how many other coats of paint - white then blue - went on.

When I was sanding the sides, I found quite a bit of graffiti, some of it carved in and would have to stay.  Like I said: this is going to be quite a quirky table!  I quite like that we are keeping some vintage graffiti, especially as the bits we are keeping spell out Dave and (a bit more bizarrely) Japan.  Dave is my partner and his son is due to start a new job in Japan in September... kinda feels like it was meant to be!

You may have to look very closely, but it definitely says Japan!
One of the drawers wasn't squared up properly, and both stuck dreadfully.  I did a lot of sanding on the drawer sides, tops and bottoms, and this, along with some furniture wax, ensures they now fit and slide beautifully.  They now make my heart sing, which possibly sounds overly dramatic and may just reflect the struggle I had with them!

It was a lot of work to get both drawers to this stage - one of them even fell apart at one point!!

In keeping with the quirky feel, one drawer is red inside and one is turquoise.  The paint hides a multitude of felt pen marks and yet more graffiti (who managed to get inside a teacher's drawer to write their name?).

I really love the newly-rounded and well-sanded corners of these drawers.  The wood finish is now lovely and smooth and it retains that old, worn feel that I like.

I also love the sanded back effect of the table top, with some of the wood grain and joins showing through. A fair bit of filler went into some of those joins, and I found a lot of sewing pins in there too!

The last job was waxing  - the table top first, followed by the legs and sides.  I'm really pleased with the effect... but this project (as projects often do) led onto another.  We will need something to sit on - bench project coming up!!

For now, though, it works really well as my temporary desk. 

I was really hesitant about painting the table top, but I do love the finish now.  I feel that the character still shines through, and its imperfections and history are still very much a part of the finished project.

I just hope it will work as a dining table in our new home! 


Claire Cooper said...

It looks fab. I love old fashioned teacher desks. I still use one in my classroom. Ink stained, but no graffiti on mine.

Wendy said...

Hi Claire, thanks for stopping by! I love that there are still older desks still in use today. They will surely outlast the more modern MDF flatpack furniture, given half a chance.