Wooden roll top desks used to be very popular. If a home had a wooden desk is the 80’s and 90’s it was very likely a roll top. They are a beautiful style of wooden desks. Over the years though the finish on them often dulls. It loses is shine and luster. The wood itself may accumulate scratches, nicks, and dents as well. There is no need to get a new desk. You can make you old wooden roll top desk like as if it were brand new again.
The first thing you’ll want to do it to take the desk outside and to your garage or work shop. To remove the old finish on the desk you will need to sand it. Sanding creates a lot of dust. If you sand the wooden desk inside that dust will be released into your home. It can contain toxins and should not be breathed in. Wear a face mask while sanding.
Use an electric handheld sander and rough grit sandpaper to remove the finish from all parts of the desk except the roll top itself. Use a piece of rough grit sandpaper and remove the finish on the roll top by hand. The rough grit sandpaper will also remove the nicks, dents, and scratches from the wood.
Once you have removed all of the old finish it’s time to smooth the surface of the bare wood. Switch to fine grit sandpaper sand it all again. The fine grit sandpaper leaves the wood flawless and silky smooth.
Next, use a soft dry cloth to wipe all of the dust particles off of the desk. If any dust particles remain they get trapped under your new finish and will create blemishes.
Once the desk is clean it’s time to apply the stain. Use a dry cloth to wipe on stain in a circular motion. Use another dry cloth to quickly wipe the stain back off. Do not allow the stain to set on the wood because it will cause dark spots. A second coat of stain can be applied if you would like a darker, richer color. If you want to keep the wood looking natural you can choose not to stain.
To protect your stained or natural wooden roll top desk you must apply polyurethane. The poly will protect the wood from moisture, dirt and dust, etc. It will give the desk a sleek, shiny, washable surface. The poly will also enhance the look of the stain and will bring out the color and pattern of the natural wood.
To apply the poly use a foam paint brush. Pour the poly slowly into a tray. Do not stir or shake the polyurethane as this will create air bubble which will transfer to the wood and will blemish your finish. If you should notice any air bubbles the way to remove them is to allow the poly to dry then to use a fine grit sand paper to sand them off.
Allow the first coat of polyurethane to dry for about a half an hour. Sand it if need be then dust it off. Apply a second coat and allow it to dry. A third coat may be applied for additional protection.
Allow the desk to set over night in your garage or work shop. This will give the polyurethane plenty of time to dry. The next day bring the wooden roll top desk back into your home. Once you get it back in place and positioned it is ready for use.