To refinish a secondhand desk, remove the old finish, sand down the wood, prime the wood and add some varnish. Some stain can add color and even out inconsistencies in the wood, but is not required.
To refinish a used wood desk, run through the following steps.
- Prepare the working area
- Remove the old finish
- Sand the desk
- Fill in the grain (optional)
- Prime the wood
- Apply a stain (optional)
- Seal the wood
Choose a well ventilated area of the home to work in. Lay down a drop cloth or newspaper to protect surrounding surfaces. Put on gloves and eye protection.
To remove the old wood finish, apply a chemical stripper to the desk. Brush on the product as directed on the label and scrape away the old finish along the grain with a scraper. To remove stubborn areas, soak a piece of steel wool with the stripper and work it into the wood.
Sand the wood with rough grit sandpaper to even out the surface and remove any lingering finish. Use finer grit sandpaper to smooth down the wood. Wipe away the dust with a damp cloth.
For open grain woods such as mahogany or oak, apply a grain filler to the desk. This helps create a smooth finish.
Brush a sanding sealer into the wood. This serves as a primer and helps stains and varnishes absorb evenly.
Work the stain into the wood according to the manufacturer's instructions. Wipe away excess stain with a rag to achieve an even finish.
Seal the wood with a varnish product such as lacquer or polyurethane.