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How To Re-Finish a Desk and Nightstand

While recently searching the local thrift shop for unique furniture to refinish I came across this Lea desk and nightstand. While not made from a high quality wood, I still liked this piece because of the detail in the finish and I knew that it would show very well with a nice van dyke glaze. The desk and nightstand were purchased for $30.

I did forget to take before pictures of the desk, but I did remember to get some of the nightstand. The desk and nightstand were thoroughly damaged from wear and the particle board was bloated from water damage as well as not being sealed on the bottoms and back sides of the desk. Now I am not a furniture maker but I do know that all door and window companies will not warranty their products unless all sides are sealed, so this seemed a bit like poor finishing to me, but easily curable.

Nightstand Before

Nightstand Before

The first thing that I did to desk was to sand down the old finish and remove any peeling paint. All sanding was done by hand with an 80 grit sponge.

Next the bloated particle board needed to be fixed. This was easily solved by saturating the problem areas with wood glue and them clamping them together between flat boards.

Bloated Particle Board

Bloated Particle Board

After all repairs were made, the desk was primed with an oil based sanding primer. All sides were primed to prevent any future expansion of the particle board.

Next the desk was sanded with a 220 grit paper and vacuumed and prepared for spraying of the top coat.

Two coats of a rather bright green oil based industrial enamel were then sprayed onto the desk and nightstand using an HVLP sprayer. Brushing would work fine for this project if you do not have access to a sprayer.

The bright green was used because I knew that the Van Dyke brown glaze would calm down the green and give it a much darker feel.

After the painting I was ready for the glazing. This is my absolute favorite part of these types of projects because it is when the piece really takes on its character.

The technique I used for this project is called a brushed glaze and can be seen on this nightstand. This technique uses three different brushes and a rag for excess. When using this technique you must not let the glaze dry like you do with other techniques, if you do, the glaze will not feather.

Drawer Closup

Drawer Closup

I start with one brush that is used for dipping into the glaze and apply the glaze thoroughly over the piece. Second, if the glaze is too thick I tap a rag onto the glaze to remove just a bit of the glaze so that it is workable. After ragging I then switched to my second brush which is used for lightly removing even more of the glaze, when doing this step make sure to brush in the same direction as you will in the final step. Lastly the third brush is used to feather the remaining glaze into a soft feel across the piece, this is usually accomplished by brushing the piece roughly 20-40 times in the same direction until the glaze has softened to your liking. Every few minuets brush number 2 & 3 must be cleaned off by wiping them on a dry rag and removing any excess glaze. A 2-4 square foot section is plenty of space to work on at a time.

Once all of the glazing was completed, a final coat of Minwax Satin Polyurethane was applied with an HVLP sprayer to protect the glazed finish.

The handles were not completed at the time of this posting.

Please give me your questions, thoughts or share a project that you have done.

Article Written By: Capstone Painting Company.

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2 Responses so far.

  1. Jenny 'Anderson' Radomski says:

    Wow! That looks fantastic! I’ve been refinishing furniture too – I love it, seeing the transformation is so great!

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