Helping A Friend


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A long time friend of the family said he had a small desk that his dad used from home to operate his small company and could I try and do something with. I warned him that I had never refinished anything nor stained anything. He dropped it off and I’m not sure what I expected  but should have expected the worse. Replacing bottom mount wood drawer glides, gluing back some small delaminated veneer and other small crap, I can do. The desk is probably a $30 item from K-Mart, 50 years ago and is certainly not a collectors item, just has sentimental value. I first thought of stripping it with some CitriStrip stuff (YouTube videos) but that turned out to be a big time mess so I took to sanding. Long story longer, this will get painted which he is good with. The problem now is the top and obviously the most prominent part. I have used some wood Bondo before with good results and could use it here.

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My bigger concern is another corner where the veneer is ripped off. This is about 1.5” in from the edge. My first thought was to use a straight edge and box blade to cut thru the veneer and a circ saw to finish cutting thru the entire piece and replace that with a breadboard end on each end. I don’t think replacing the entire top is an option. Anyone have a miracle solution? 

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WWTJD?

It looks like the layer that has chipped away is thicker than 1-2 layers of commercial veneer. I think I’d be tempted to use a straight edge to clean up the damaged section and then use a router to cut down to a solid foundation and then size a piece to fill it back in flush. 

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If you are painting, Bondo will be your best friend. Just remove all those loose bits of veneer first. Once Bondo (automotive or wood, I can't tell any difference except the color) is cured, it shapes pretty well with coarse sandpaper or a fine rasp or file. Not sure I would use it to form an edge profile or replace that mangled corner by itself, though.

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I guess it's too late but I had some luck when restoring a couple pieces of furniture to not strip the finish but try dye to make the damaged parts mimic the existing stain. It doesn't result in it looking brand new again but has been good enough.

With the damage on the top you could spend a lot of time trying to fix it which is ok. Could you also just remove he old top and cut a new one? It appears to just be plywood. If more time is available than money i get that.

My 2nd option would be to just cut the ends off and glue on replacement ply or wood.

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I’m afraid that removing the top would be a disaster as they attached the top to the legs with the corrugated brads/nails type things and there are triangular glue block attaching the side panels to the top. I woke up last night with a plan, jotted it down on a sticky note and went back to bed. I’m thinking putting some sort of curved vertical piece along the back edge, sitting on the top and continuing it forward five or six inches on the sides. I’m sure there is a name for these pieces?  I will remove the damaged thin veneer on the bad part, replace it and the new piece will cover the repair. The other corner will receive a bondo patch. 

I will paint the whole thing with a wire brush.:D Actually, my brother is pretty good at spraying cabinet grade paint.

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Ronn, you did give this some thought!! However, the right and left front edges are proud of the shaped edge expect at it’s peak and is flush at that point. I spent quite a bit of time today, cleaning the profile of the tops edge with a brass bristle brunch and whatever else I could find. I also cut the three strips that will fit on the top and bought the wood bondo. 

But yes, the wine did help ........ make me want a beer! :D  Thanks

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I really hate to rely on other’s mistakes and success but I’m greedy and just darn near desperate as I hate to paint. This is a partial view of this desk, with the stain completely sanded from the solid wood legs, partially removed from the veneered drawer fronts, and darn near sanded thru the veneer on the side side panels but still darker than the rest.From watching YouTube videos, particularly Marc’s “Coloring/Staining Blotchy Woods”, I might be able to stain, using gel stain, GF as preferred by Marc, instead of paint. On Marc’s video, he used bare wood in his demo, followed with a coat of shellac, then the gel. For those of you, particularly @Chet, or Marc or/and anyone else familiar with shellac and maybe even shellac and gel stain combined, can I use the combo of the two on my three stages of sanding? 

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Ken, maybe some else has better experience with stain matching than I, but it's really difficult to match the color of a piece like that. My advice is to at least avoid trying to 'feather in' the color on a panel that is only partially sanded. As for using shellac and gel stain together, yes it will adhere. I can't say that the gel stain will look GOOD over shellac, but that is my limited experience.

If I were attempting this, I might use a regular stain on the bare parts to get close, then apply a dilute coat of shellac, and gel stain over the entire pice to blend the surfaces as much as possible. I would even consider not completely wiping the gel out of the nooks and crannies, to give it a more aged, work appearance. That shading will also help disguise any color mis-match between the surfaces.

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On 1/9/2022 at 8:56 AM, Coop said:

After watching probably too many videos, I’ve decided to go ahead and sacrifice this piece to the paint gods. 

After seeing what this piece started out looking like, and what you have had to do as far as repairs and sanding, I think that is a good choice.  AND it won't be in your house so you won't be seeing it much if at all.  Out of sight, out of mind.

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