The Right Way to Refinish a Rolltop Desk

Roll top desks are such classy statement pieces in any home.  It’s so rare to find one in excellent condition.  They are notorious for being difficult to paint because you can easily gunk up the tambour (rolling portion) with paint causing it not to roll at all.  If you are lucky enough to come across one, here are some tips for a successful transformation.

You Will Need:

  • Brushes and 6″ rollers
  • Wood Filler
  • Mouse Sander with low (60) and higher (180) sanding pads.
  • Zinsser 123 Primer
  • White Paint – I used Behr Ultra in Ultra White Satin
  • Base Coat for Faux Stain – I used Behr Honey Butter Flat
  • Gel Stain – I used Minwax Gel Stain in Walnut
  • New Hardware
  • Minwax Wipe-on Polyurethane.

I stumbled upon this desk on a Facebook page that a friend was selling.  This desk was perfect to redo because the top portion comes off and the tambour just slides out making it so much easier to refinish.  The desk was structurally in great shape but the surface needed some love.

Rolltop Before

I knew I was going to sell this piece so I decided to do the surface a dark stain using my gel stain method and would paint the rest white.  I realized that the plastic sleeve on both sides that the tambour slides into was already dark brown so I tried to spray paint it white to match what would be white.  Let me save a little spray paint and a lot of frustration by telling you that was a horrible idea.

Spray Paint Rolltop

The spray paint started peeling away when I moved the tambour up and down.  It looked horrible so I spent over an hour scraping the spray paint out with a putty knife.  I decided to faux stain the interior of the top to better match the plastic sleeves as there was no easy way to change their color.

Spray painting the tambour is also a horrible idea.  Ask me how I know…

I took off the hardware and filled obvious holes, scratches and dents on the desk with wood filler.

Filler

After 48 hours of drying, I sanded the entire desk with a rough sandpaper pad (60) with my mouse sander.  Have I mentioned lately how much I love my sander?!? Below is a picture of the two of us!   (Also, wear a respirator or mask when sanding the wood filler because those tiny particles can get in your lungs…No bueno!)

SanderSanding

Sand the tambour by laying it out flat on the ground and sand as you would the rest of the desk.

SandingTambour

After sanding it was time to prime.  Once again I used Zinsser 123 water-based primer.  I just found out they made a spray paint  version which I will have to try out on my next project.  Get a nice thick coat of primer on your piece of furniture.  You’ll notice that I didn’t get any primer on the groove the tambour slides into.

Prime 1

After priming the rest of the desk, I laid the tambour over a round kitchen garbage can that was on it’s side.  I wanted to open up the creases so I could get primer in each crease between the wood slats.  I was able to do this with a thin coat of primer.

Prime Tambour

Get just enough primer to fill in the dark portion in between the wood slats.  Use your brush to wipe off any excess and wipe your brush on some paper if you have too much paint on your brush.  You have time to wipe off the excess before it dries.  What you don’t want is a thick layer of wet, drippy paint on the tambour or the paint will crack once it dries.  The Zinsser 123 Primer is perfect for this application because it is thin but clings well to the grooves while covering well.

prime 2

At this point, fill any remaining holes, dents or scratches on the rest of the desk.  You should now be able to see them easier with the piece primed.  Sand those parts after they are dry.

Halfway into this process, I realized  that this desk didn’t have any of the cute ‘card catalog’ style drawers that you so often see on these desks.  I decided to add some using some unfinished jewelry boxes I found online.

Jewelry Boxes 1Jewelry Boxes 2

I bought two for each side and glued them together with carpenter’s glue and clamped them overnight to dry.  I also pulled off the wooden knobs, filled the holes and then made holes for some cute pulls.  Make your holes before you paint because you don’t want to risk screwing up the final finish.  I then glued the drawers onto the inside of the desk using wax paper to ensure the glue didn’t seep onto the desk top.

Base Coat 1

 

I started painting the desk with the yellowish base coat on the places I would faux stain and used white on the rest.  It took a couple coats of white paint because the desk was so dark.

I used the same process on this desk as I did with the end tables in my post How To Gel Stain Wood  Here is a pic of the first coat of gel stain.  You want to leave some sections only partly covered in the first coat to make the second coat a little more translucent and “wood-grain-like” in those parts.

Gel Stain

Back to the tambour…While I let each coat of gel stain dry at least 24 hours, I laid the tambour flat on the concrete and added a thin coat of white.  Again brush off any excess.  It was still a little streaky at this point but you will touch that up towards the end

After the second and final gel stain coat, I added a coat of wipe-on polyurethane to the stained parts.  The nice thing about latex paint and polyurethane is that you know that in 10 years the finish will look the same and be just as durable.   Both finishes provide a clean, wipe-able surface that will not hold dirt easily.

I have a friend that did her entire kitchen cabinets in chalk paint and wax.  They looked fantastic but after only 6 months they looked awful because the porosity of the chalk paint held on to every speck of dirt and dust in her kitchen.  She ended up redoing them in latex shortly after.  (Getting off my soapbox now…)

After touching up the tambour one last time, I put the desk together including the main drawers, the top and the tiny drawers.  I also added new hardware to the whole desk including ‘card catalog’ style drawer pulls to the top drawers.  Didn’t they turn out cute?

Drawers

 

Desk Transformation

Rolltop Desk with Stained Top

Notice the concrete floors in the background.  We had a massive flood which I shared about in my post Beauty From Chaos: How to Find Peace in Any Situation.

Rolltop Desk with Closed Top

This desk was quite an undertaking but worth it to bring out the full potential of such a fabulous vintage piece.  Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check out my other furniture transformations!

Writing Desk Makeover

Coffee Table Reveal and a Word About Transparency

Made Over, Inside and Out – China Cabinet Transformation

 

‘Til Next Time,

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Rolltop Desk at www.renovatedfaith.comTheRightWayToRefinishARolltopDesk

Beauty From Chaos: How to Find Peace in Any Situation

You might remember my pristine DIY Entertainment Center that I featured on the blog a couple weeks ago.  Now marred by water damaged and covered with dust, these pieces currently sit in our garage…..entertainment-center-2Last Sunday night, we woke at midnight to our daughter screaming.  I ran into the living room to check on her, sure that I would find her in the midst of some frantic search for her mermaid doll that fell off the bed.  Apparently, her mermaid not only fell off the bed but went for a swim because she picked it up to find it was covered in water – as was most of our house!

Living Room

Two inches of water from a broken toilet valve now covered most of our home.  We sloshed through soaked carpet to try to move most of our furniture into the garage.   A company came to pull out the carpet and set up industrial fans and dehumidifiers for a week.  Carpet has been pulled up from every room,  much of our furniture is in the garage and the contents of every closet was left in a huge pile in the middle of each room in order to remove carpeting.  The wind and noise from the fans only reminded me that the state of our house was now a swirl of chaos.

For someone who likes to surround myself with order, beauty and solitude, my home quickly became a wet, concrete-laden, obstacle course of wet furniture, carpet tacks and confusion.

I had some unfinished furniture pieces in our garage and decided I needed to finish them up to make extra room.  I pulled a half-completed secretary into our living room (aka ground zero) to touch up.  This was a piece I worked on for my friend Rebecca to use as her daughter’s desk.

Secretary before

I began put the hardware on the secretary and soon a peace came over me.  The drawers had been strewn all over the house as I waited for them to dry.  It was no nice to see them finally come together to make something beautiful. I am reminded that in spite of chaos, God’s peace can still reign in our heart’s and minds – not matter the mess, no matter the struggles or disaster that surrounds us.

Priscilla’s Shirer’s The Armor of God is a Bible study that brings to light the spiritual warfare that surrounds us on a daily basis and how to combat it.  In it she states:

“Anywhere peace is lacking you can be sure the enemy is at work.”

Peace

This quote stopped me in my tracks.  I realized that my heart felt as chaotic as our household because I was allowing Satan’s lies and deception to steal my joy and contentment.

I was blaming my discontent on the state of our house but, in reality, the peace that God gives is not as the world gives. Just because I was surrounded by disorder, my heart can be calm because God can be trusted with even the messiest of situations.

The Lord recognizes that we will have hard times, but God’s overwhelming peace has the capacity to give you rest in the most turbulent of circumstances. 

So many times I have read Philippians 4:6-7.  It is a well-known verse that commonly adorns coffee mugs, picture frames and refrigerator magnets.  Unfortunately, when it comes to this verse, I often confuse familiarity with apathy.

Do Not Be Anxious

 

This is one of those powerful verses that the enemy would love for us to forget.

But how do we really experience God’s peace in the midst of horrible circumstances? 

Priscilla points out that this verse is intrinsically tied to Isaiah 26:3: “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”

When we make a conscience effort to pray with thanksgiving, instead of allowing anxiety to rule our thoughts and emotions, we are expressing a firm trust in God and His care for us.  By taking this step in faith with thanksgiving, we are affirming that God has the capacity to overcome anything that life brings.

This is the key to unlocking the peace that so often alludes us…

As Priscilla Shirer says, “This kind of faith catches His attention and He response by activating His peace within us – a peace that will not only guard but also guide us by helping us to discern the direction God is leading us to take in our lives.  Note the progression: trust leads to thankfulness and gratitude activates peace.”

As I wrote in 7 Tips To Find Your Calling, let your fears and anxieties become a reminder that you have something to bring before the Lord in prayer.  When we trust our situation to God by submitting our concerns in prayer and thanksgiving, He will be faithful to release His peace in our lives.  Before you know it you will to see the beauty of his plans even in the midst of chaos.

My prayer is that your every anxious thought would filter through this truth leaving you with the peace that only He can give.

Even in the aftermath of the flood, I was able to complete this secretary.  If you look closely, you can see concrete floors in the background.  What a testimony to how God brings beauty from ashes, growth from decay, and hope from destruction.

aquagraysecretary

secretary2

Enjoy some of the pictures of the finished secretary!  If you liked this post, you might also like:

DIY Faux Painted Signs (Free Scripture Printables)DIY Faux Painted Signs (Free Scripture Printables)

When Anxiety Knocks and God Answers, Part 1

‘Til Next Time,

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When Peace is Lacking

 

Made Over, Inside and Out

On the way home one night, I saw a very tall object on the curb of a neighbor’s house.  I drove by and in my rearview, I realized it was a large piece of furniture someone was throwing out.  We were almost home but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted another look.  We circled around and it was a dingy oak china cabinet.  Several of the doors were broken, it was dirty and even had water damage at the bottom.  However, I saw potential in that old piece– It was just begging me to take it home and make it new again.

So, I did what any good southern girl without a truck would do…I called my daddy.  Jeremy and my dad wielded the monstrosity into our garage that night.  I was determined to save it from its impending doom upon trash pickup the next morning.  They thought I was crazy for wanting to save this piece of furniture, but I knew it had potential to be something great.

china cabinet before

The process began…I surveyed the damage, dusted it off and cleaned it up.  I was even lucky enough to find an old mouse trap in the top (fortunately it was empty).  My dad rebuilt the broken doors, I ripped off some of the molding to replace with new and I restored one of the shelves inside.  After extensive sanding, a layer of heavy-duty primer to cover the orange-y stain, several coats of paint and multiple tubes of caulk, it now sits in my dining room as a permanent fixture in our home.  I am very satisfied with the end product and it brings me joy to think about how far it has come.

More importantly, the china cabinet serves as a reminder of how far I have come.  You see God also saw me in the darkness.  He saw that I was dirty, broken, and in a state of disrepair.  But that didn’t stop Him.  He didn’t even need to even take a second look.  Through no effort of my own, He delivered me from my sin and certain destruction through Christ’s death and resurrection.  Upon accepting Christ as my Savior, my eternal status is secure with Him.  Now, He is “renovating” me to be more and more like Him every day.  God has had to clean me up, release me from my baggage, repair my brokenness and He continues sanding my rough edges to make them smooth.

Fortunately, God never leaves a project half-done…He continually works on each one of us, shaping us to be a useful tool for Him to use.  That’s what the Christian life is.  It is a process of transformation that can only be done by His Hands.  We all have areas where we need work – whether it is anxiety, overeating, insecurity, or pride, God wants to renovate our hearts and minds.

Any home improvement project is messy and can take longer than we previously thought.  You might even uncover issues that you weren’t previously aware of and you may need to make several calls for help.   However, at the end of the project, the results are breath-taking and the struggle  is now behind you.  You have replaced this hang-up with new habits and the results are amazing.  You might even ask yourself “Why didn’t I tackle this sooner?”

That’s why I have entitled the blog Renovated Faith…The Lord helps you take off your old self and put on your new self.  You take off the lies and put on the truth.  You take off your cultural perspective and put on a biblical perspective.  You take off what you learned growing up and put on what the Bible says about your situation. Once you come to know Christ as your Savior, that is just the beginning.  You have a whole new life ahead of you.  God still has a lot of refinishing work to do on me and I invite you to join me on this journey as He gives us a makeover from the inside out.

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?  I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”  Isaiah 43:19

china cabinet boxwood

front china cabinet

glasses

 

China Cabinet Restoration Process and Source List

  1. Dust off with a damp wrap and remove all hardware.  Replace any molding that is out of date.
  2. Start sanding. If you don’t have a palm sander like this one, it is well worth your money.  I have used it on countless projects and it’s my favorite tool!
  3. I’ve used several of Zinsser’s primers and decided on the Zinsser Bullseye 123 Waterproof Primer. It has great adhesion, cleans up easily, low odor and settles well into cracks, which is great for old oak furniture.  Also, it only takes an hour to dry before your next coat.  You can find it at Home Depot and Walmart.
  4. I used Behr Premium Plus white in Satin. It took me 2 good coats and then some touch ups.  I painted the inside back in Behr Sonata in Satin to give my white plates some contrast.
  5. I spray painted the hinges using Rustoleum’s Universal Metallic in Oil-Rubbed Bronze. It is the best oil-rubbed bronze spray paint on the market and so durable that I just used it to spray paint my metal shower frame.
  6. Caulk any cracks and replace hardware (I like Dap caulk). Amazon is a great source for basic hardware like the knobs.  We got the cabinet lighting here.

If you  have questions about the refinishing process, leave them in the comments section and I’ll answer within 24 hours.