A New Challenge: Restoring a Vintage School Desk

This handsome piece has a lot of character, but most of that character has been carved into it's surface over many years of use by school children, including some choice swear words.

Every restoration begins with a discussion. We have to be careful just how much is restored. On one hand antiques and vintage items acquire wisdom and character over time, but what one person sees as beautiful characteristic, another might see as ugly damage. It's all subjective, but it can be tedious to step slightly outside of your own personal tastes and consider what is best for the piece. 

In the case of this wooden school desk we began with a general cleaning with wood soap to remove dirt, grim, and ink marks. Then any nicks that were obvious damage or sharp enough to cause injury were smoothed with 100 grit sandpaper. Those are finished with 220 grit sandpaper for a smooth finish. The metal and hardware is checked for surface rust and tightened. This piece was fortunately rust-free, but that would be lightly sanded with an extra fine grit as well. This wood get a coat of mineral once it's completely dry and the next day receives the final touch -- a coat of our Organic Beeswax Board Butter.