Little Black Desk

Updated: Nov 1, 2018

I hate throwing things out. I’ve been accused of being a pack rat, but I genuinely do intend on using the stuff I squirrel away, so can I honestly be accused of such? I’ll let you decide. I love doing DIY projects. I can’t say I care for the sweat and occasional injury but hey, it’s all for a good cause.

I love up-scaling; making something old into something new or refurbishing/ fixing something so that maybe it can last a few more decades and maybe make someone else smile. I’ve redone baseboards in my living room and hallway, stripped, stained and varnished my kitchen cabinets and paid to have a lot more work done that was too big for me to handle solo and still have a life.

A few weeks ago my cousin found this old particle board desk literally being tossed out to the curb. My cousin, who’s been on the lookout for cheap furniture, pulled over and found that the little thing was actually in decent shape. Yes, it was only beat up particle board, and was patched up with duct tape but it seemed solid and usable.

She brought it to my house later that day asking if I could paint it black for her to use as a vanity. I have some experience with paints and have painted some small pieces before, I have never tackled something as large as a desk, let alone anything made out of particle board and cheap laminate.. I wondered if it would be worth the effort of fixing, but I had to say, after doing some research, I was curious to try.

The best option I could find to use that might actually cover the laminate was chalk paint.

I began by giving the whole thing a light scuff sanding, (the bottle said I could skip this step but I didn’t believe them), as I assessed what other work needed to be done.

The poor thing was in worse shape than I had initially thought.  The drawer was held together with only strips of duct tape. Along the surface of the desk, several more strips of duct tape were either holding gouged out patches of the particle board into place, or were covering metal spikes of some kind that were sticking out, rather dangerously. Surprisingly, all the drawer runners were in good shape. The drawer and the keyboard table rolled out smoothly and the hinges on the little door were still solidly in place. While this thing needed a lot of work, it was still solid. I decided to start with the drawer. Once I peeled the strips of duct tape off, I found that they’d been the only thing holding the front in place. So of course it immediately fell off. So I broke out the wood glue and went to town on it, praying that it would work on particle board as well as it did on real wood. Then I busted out the clamps and bungee cord and prayed over it as I made sure it would hold into place as it dried. With that amount of wood glue I knew it might take at least a full day to dry.

I love bungee cords. They work great for clamping. I used a small one on either side of the drawer to hold it in place while it dried. It did take a full day.

Then I tackled the gouges. One was so deep that it took several layers of wood putty to fill it in. After cutting down the spikes (or whatever they were) with my miter saw, I filed them down to relative smoothness and filled in the loose holes they were in with wood putty. It was only when all but the biggest gouges were filled and dry that I wiped the thing down and we got to the business of painting.

The scapes you see on left are from where I cut one of those metal spikes with my miter saw. The beige blob is where I patched a very big gouge with a copious amout of wood putty.

I had my mom help me and after that first coat and nearly the entire jar, we realized I was going to have to get a new one quick. One coat just was NOT going to be enough.

Same side as shown above after first coat of paint.

Front after first coat of paint.

Two days later I went back at it with a new bottle. The second coat did the job of covering the brown laminate very nicely.

See below ;-)

After second coat of paint.

Chalk paint seems to be very versatile; it gripped well, covered well, however it does NOT hold up to traffic. Since it scratches easily I decided to call out my old frenemy, polyurethane.

Using rags made out of an old white t-shirt, I slapped the stuff on, smoothing it out as I went and I have to admit, I was surprised that even after the first coat of poly, it turned out very nicely.

I waited the requisite three hours before sanding it smooth and applying the second coat. Only when it was finally dry and I had put both coats of poly on the now repaired drawer, did I finally get to really stop and admire the progress the little thing had made.

Black furniture isn’t usually my thing but I had to say, this old cast off duct taped, gouged out particle board desk, turned out rather stylish looking.

Yes it had taken some bracing, gluing, clamping, two cans of paint and elbow grease but I can honestly say, the repair work was well worth it.

It had turned out beautifully.

Same side as above after two coats of polyurethane.

After two coats of polyurethane, this is what it looked like. ;-)

After two coats of polyurethane :-)

When my cousin and aunt came to pick it up, they both commented that it didn’t look like the same piece of furniture.

They were right.

It didn’t.

The work, the effort, it had been worth it. This cast off piece of furniture will be happily used for many years yet.

This little experiment made me think: If this broken down, ill made, bent up desk is worth fixing up, how much more worth the effort of repair are we?

We are worth more than any piece of furniture. If things look hopeless for you right now, I pray that you know that there is nothing wrong with your life that cannot be fixed.

It just takes the right craftsman for the job.

If this is the only one of my blog posts that you ever read, I hope and pray that you never forget that you are worth the effort of repairing.

For the Master Craftsman, nothing is beyond repair. ;-)

My cousins new Little Black vanity happily settled in its new home. ;-D

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