Deciding whether or not to purchase this antique school desk was difficult, but working on it was totally more work than I bargained for!
Antique School Desk
When I posted THIS PICTURE on the facebook page, I got 75 comments about whether or not I should buy it. The price was right, but it was in such BAD shape!
Wooden School Desk
This is after I brought it home and got ready to disassemble it and begin working on it. I may not have purchased it if I had any idea how much elbow grease it was going to need.
This poor antique desk had been left out in the elements and needed a lot of work. Do you think the wood is oak?
Because I don’t work a lot with metals, I really had no idea what I was in for.
How to deal with rusty metal
I started attacking the metal frame of the school desk with a wire brush, that was pretty much pointless. What I quickly realized was this “someone had painted over existing rust”. I borrowed a wire wheel from Rodney and sort of made a dent in the rust and paint, but I would need to remove the paint so I could get to the rust.
I used some aerosol Citristrip to get rid of the top layer of paint. This is where I almost gave up. Had I realized that there was so much rust UNDER the paint, it would have allowed me to work in the proper steps and get to the root of the problem more easily.
Spray Paint Primer
After a lot of stripping of paint, treating the rust with the amazing Krud Kutter, using the wire wheel and even some sandpaper, I was FINALLY ready for some spray paint primer.
How To: Dry brush technique
I mixed up some diy chalky paint primer with some plaster of paris in my oops paint. Since I really didn’t want to try to “restore” this wood to a like new condition. I wanted to preserve it’s used and abused nature to show how rough it’s life had been.
It seemed like a dry brush technique on the wood was a great option.
I used some Heirloom Traditions clear wax on the wooden pieces (and the metal pieces after they were painted)
After using the black primer on the metal portions of the antique school desk, I’m ready to give it some color.
I mixed up more chalky paint primer to use in my Homeright Finish Max to give the metal a pretty blue color.
After allowing the blue paint to cure on the metal, and fighting to get all of the wooden pieces back on the frame, the boards seemed a little loose, so I used some Gorilla Wood Glue on this handy Rockler Silicone Glue Brush to apply glue in between the boards. I clamped the sections and let them set up overnight.
NOTE: I’d love to give you tips on taking apart a school desk and putting it back together, but for me it was just “try this” then “try that”. I originally read this post at Coffee Under The Umbrella, but my desk was a little different.
My best advice is BE patient, and make sure you keep all of the wooden components together so you know which is the seat, back and desk top.
Navy Blue Antique School Desk
I LOVE the navy blue on the frame of this antique school desk, don’t you? The diy chalky paint primer sealed with clear wax looks gorgeous! It even has that little storage area!
You may not be a fan of the paint technique on the wood components, but I really love how it keeps the integrity and charm of the original pieces.
I didn’t capture a picture of the desk top, but you can still see the initials carved into the wood. Making sure you could still see that was important to me. I know… I’m such a sentimental sap!
It is currently for sale in my booth at Vendors’ Village. I wonder if the vendor who sold it in their booth will recognize it? Click the link to see the rotted tree trunk succulent planter.
What project has challenged you, and almost made you regret that you ever brought it home? Did it involve RUST?
Gail Wilson is the author and mastermind behind My Repurposed Life. She is obsessed with finding potential in unexpected places and believes that with a little hard work and imagination, any old thing can be made useful again, including herself!
Gail reinvented herself during a midlife crisis and has found purpose again. She hopes you will find new ideas for old things and pick up a few tools along the way.