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Guest Project — Trash to Treasure Desk Transformation!

 Hi! I am Stacy from Not JUST A Housewife and I am so HaPpY to be here on Tatertots and Jello!!!

I love building and refinishing furniture! It all started when I was a newly wed and received a ton of hand-me-down furniture from family and friends. Most people probably would have left it “as is” until they could afford new things. But not me. I wanted them to look nice and match right then ( I don’t have a whole lot of patience). So I figured out how to fix them up. I still have almost all of that furniture and some are my favorite pieces even though I have lots of new things too.

Today I am going to show you how I refinished an old desk that has been collecting dust in my mom’s barn for years! The first picture is the before before.
And here it is all cleaned up. The before picture :)
 It needed a lot of TLC. It had a minor crack on the top, thumb tack holes along the front, and chunks missing. It also had a broken leg. I first addressed any repairs that needed to be made. I used Elmers stainable, paintable and sandable wood glue. I put glue along the crack and let it sink in. Then I wiped it off with a damp paper towel.
Putting the large clamp on caused some of the glue to squeeze out so I wiped it again. I glued and clamped the broken leg too. I used a small C clamp.
The desk wasn’t the best ever made. The drawers were held together with only 2 nails on each side. Needless to say, they weren’t very strong. I re-enforced them with my brad nail gun. I looked around the desk and found some other spots to re-enforce as well. Really I just like to find reasons to use it. It is my favorite tool!
 I let the glue dry for a day before I took the clamps off and sanded it. I was lucky because it was pretty much all flat. I did most of the sanding with my hand sander. There were only a few spots I did by hand. You need to remove the old finish so the wood will accept the new stain. If you have something that you want to refinish and it would be hard to sand, you can use gel stain. I have used that several times with very good results. I use Minwax’s gel stain. You can apply it over existing finishes. It is thick and sticky. It would be best to practice on something else first to get the hang of it. For an example, see my bathroom HERE.
 It is all naked and ready for a new look! I almost forgot to mention that I used putty to fill in any small cracks or nail holes. Putty, let dry, and then sand. I use Elmers stainable, paintable, sandable wood putty. I used the natural color because it was outside and so was I. I should have used the darker colored putty (it was ALL the way inside ). This putty is stainable, but to a point. That is why they have a darker color. I added more stain to the puttied parts and it worked out fine, but in retrospect I should have got off my big behind and got the darker putty!
 In a situation like this, I use oil based stains. This wood was old and dried out. The oil in the stain helps the wood. Plus it dries slower than waterbased stains and gives you more time to work at getting an even finish. Waterbased stains sink in fast, especially with dry or porous (soft) wood. You can also use a wood conditioner before applying the stain. It is sold in cans just like the stain and is milky white. I always use foam brushes too. There aren’t any brush marks and it makes for easy clean up. Just toss them in the garbage!
 I let the stain dry for a day and a half. It needs to be completely dry and not sticky at all.

Then you can add the polyurethane. I love the smell of polyurethane! I know, I know, in the state of California it is known to cause cancer yadda yadda. . . But I love it. In a well ventilated area of course. It brings the wood to life and protects it. I use Minwax’s Fast Drying Clear Satin finsih.
And drum roll please. . . . . .

Taaadaaaa! Isn’t she a beaut??? All I did for the drawer pulls was scrub them in some soapy water. I love the patina on them. I think this will make a welcome addition to my office.

I don’t JUST do furniture. I love to craft, (attampt to ) sew, bake, cook, garden, paint, and do fun activites with my kids. Come and check out my blog sometime! Not JUST A Housewife
Wonderful project Stacy! It turned out so well!!
 Thank you so much for coming over and sharing your tutorial with us!! Not Just a Housewife is one of my new favorite blogs! Stacy has fantastic ideas!! Some of her recent projects I have loved have been:
And. she also has another fabulous blog! I know – how does she do it??? Check out her Birthday Blog too!!
You will find all sorts of great party ideas and cakes, like one of my favorite cakes of all time!


{Campfire Cake}
So much fun!!!
Have a great day!
Simply Modern Mom
PS – come over and see me at Simply Modern Mom today. I am sharing my favorite picks for Holiday Place Settings :)


  1. Rachel@oneprettything.com says:

    What a transformation, it's gorgeous! Thanks for sharing the process, I'll be linking.

  2. Jensamom23 says:


  3. Sue (Someone's Mom) says:

    This gives us hope that any piece of furniture can be saved! It was a mess and looks great now! Very nice tutorial.

  4. those are the best tips on redoing wood furniture i have ever seen!!! my dad's hobby is woodworking, but he doesn't always do things the easiest way. thank you for showing me how! i am going to have to bookmark this post so i can find it again when i finally decide to redo my daughter's old dresser! thanks!!!!!!

  5. What a great transformation!!

  6. That is AMAZING!! Gotta love a girl with a nail gun! :)

  7. Quilts and Cats says:

    That was just gorgeous. I need to find something cool like that to re-furbish now! The pictures were wonderful and I'm very happy to be turned on to Stacy's blog. Thank you

  8. Very nice!
    I love my nail gun, too!

    PS I know it was very time consuming, but it was worth it!

  9. Thank you for this! My dresser had a plug-in spill and it took the stain right off down to the bare wood! OF course it would take forever to sand The whole thing!
    I am excited that I will be able to do this my self!
    Maybe a Christmas present to me!!
    I will post pics when I get to it!
    Thank you!
    Kelly K

  10. amycornwell says:

    What a cute desk re-do! I love antique pieces like this. Great job!

  11. Brinkmeyer says:

    Wow! Talk about trash to treasure! I will now keep an open mind about pieces I see at yard sales. Thanks for the inspiration!


  12. Baker Family says:

    Wow! It looks beautiful! Well worth the work!



  13. Kristen Andrews says:

    wow what a transformation!

  14. Three Points Vintage says:

    wow… I can't even believe how great the desk turned out! Your hard work paid off.

  15. That turned out really well. Great save!

  16. Little Treasures says:

    Wow! What a fabulous transformation! Now you have an exquisite piece of furniture!

  17. Black and White {Side by Side} says:

    TWO great blogs?? i love this post! that campfire cake is impressive!

  18. the desk looks amazing!! (and so glad to be introduced to the tater tot blog now :)

  19. jennykate77 says:

    I just checked out her blog and WOW. She has some great ideas and tutorials. I'm in love with that laundry chute!!! I'm kind of wishing I had an upstairs bathroom now!! I want one! :) Reminds me of one my aunt and uncle had in their old farm house.

    Hope you're having a great week, Jen!! *MUAH*

  20. Beth Eaton says:

    What a fantastic table! I am headed her way right now!!

  21. Dyche Designs says:

    Loved seeing the transformation, it looks amazing.

  22. aPearantly sew says:

    I love that table! She did a great job transforming it!

  23. Wow! I love how it turned out. It's so fun to bring old things back to life with just a little tlc.


  24. what a talent! thanks for introducing me to somebody so awesome:)

  25. Gorgeous! You must have a lot of patience for a big project like that. Very inspiring.

  26. It's beautiful! Thanks for the inspiration!

  27. Kelli @ RTSM says:

    That is an awesome transformation! I probably would have been lazy and just spray painted it…but it looks great with the natural wood color!