Built In Desk Makeover – Days Three and Four

Sorry this took so long to finish. I swore to myself that I wouldn’t sugar coat what my process is even if it goes down the wrong path, twice. Let’s just say there were issues with the top coat.

I decided to top coat this with Sherwin-Williams Wood Classics Fast Drying Oil Varnish. The first mistake was that I picked up a can of high gloss instead of satin and didn’t realize it until it was already on the piece. I’m not a lover of shine so it was a drag, but I figured that I could sand it back with steel wool which was true.

Maybe I should go back and say that the first mistake was buying the Fast Drying Oil Varnish. Fast should be replaced with “So fast you should just pour this crap on”. Top coats are where everyone can and will screw up a great piece of furniture. Most people bite the bullet and start spraying their topcoats, and I’m very close to doing that. The reason is, most products that claim you can brush, roll or spray their products are lying to you. Let me rephrase this. You can brush or roll their product as long as you’re not attached to the piece and are considering leaving it out on the curb on trash day.

I actually have found a great top coat that I love called Arm-R-Seal Polyurethane and you can wipe it on with a staining pad and it’s phenomenal. However, this line of stain isn’t compatible with it, and since I’m trying to stay within my stash of stain I had to pick a different top coat.

Now back to the desk. This fast drying varnish sets up within 5 seconds. I’m probably being generous with the 5 seconds. So you brush on one spot then load your brush again and put it down and demurely let out an, “Oh, Shit!” when your brush touches the spot just adjacent (that you just laid down 3 seconds ago) and leaves a trail of scattered, bumpy, rumply varnish piles. And then you do it again, and again, and again. Thank God my daughter is completely oblivious to my potty mouth because there was nothing but swearing going on while I did this. The spots don’t go away either. It’s like mini sculptures of crap all the way along the surface.

Now some of you who think you know more than me are saying, “She should have thinned it.” Ok smartypants, but the can says DON’T THIN. And I’m a rule follower.

Needless to say, there was a lot of sanding taking place after it dried which left it more foggy than I like. The answer to that was finishing paste wax. Great product. Luckily I was going for a distressed look  because it looks like it came from a library in London that was bombed in the war. I love that look.

The handles are all cast iron which I have a thing for. My Dad owned a cast iron foundry when I was growing up so I appreciate the artistry. I won this set of five different handles in an ebay auction for $18. Total steal. I will faux finish the screws to match in a couple days, so don’t worry about the garish silver hardware.

So there it is…a simple desk makeover……..whatever.


All thoughts are welcome!

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