Strip and Stain a Wood Desk
LESLIE: Calling from New York and listening in on WABC we’ve got Catherine. What’s going on at your money pit?
CATHERINE: I had received from my son-in-law a child’s desk; a school desk that he had when he was a young boy that they sold to the – you know, they gave away.
TOM: Oh, how cool.
CATHERINE: And now I want to refinish it for my granddaughter and I want to know the best thing to use to strip it.
LESLIE: OK, is it one of those solid wood, oldie ones where you slide in from the side?
CATHERINE: (overlapping voices) Yes, yes. Solid wood but it has a Formica top.
TOM: OK. Well, the first thing you’re going to probably want to do is take the top off, wouldn’t you think, Leslie?
LESLIE: Yeah, if you can get the top off it’ll make it a lot easier for you to work with the wood. But the seat is wood, the legs are wood, everything else is wood but the desk top?
CATHERINE: Yeah, it looks like it’s maple, probably.
TOM: (overlapping voices) OK, well that’s great.
CATHERINE: It’s a nice, solid wood.
CATHERINE: And the Formica top is really on quite well so what I did was I taped around the top.
LESLIE: OK, perfect.
CATHERINE: Because I don’t think I can take it off.
LESLIE: Do you want to stain it or do you want to paint it?
CATHERINE: I haven’t quite decided but I was leaning towards staining it. Her bedroom is very blond but she also has some white things. So it’ll be either keeping it sort of very light, maybe even natural, or white.
TOM: And it’s natural right now?
CATHERINE: Well, yes. It was light. It was light. You know, I started trying to remove the stain with something I got from the hardware store but …
CATHERINE: … it’s not working as well as I like, so …
TOM: Well, here are a couple of things that you can do. Leslie, what would you recommend here? Rock Miracle, probably?
LESLIE: Yeah, I like working with Rock Miracle only because it’s kind of thicker in consistency; almost a rubber cement so you have control in putting it on; it’s not so liquid-y. And you can put it on into some tricky spots and then you really let the chemical sit there and do it’s job and then go ahead and, you know, use a stiff bristle brush and, you know, try to get rid of whatever’s already peeling off. Then in areas where you end up with some problems you can go in with sand paper – you know, medium grit to fine grit – and work those areas. And you just want to get down as close to raw wood as you can; especially since you’re going with a lighter color finish.
And once you get down to raw wood you want to make sure you give it a good sanding. Then you take – what is it? – tack cloth.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Yeah, exactly.
LESLIE: And really make sure that you wipe away all of that sawdust because even though it might look like there’s nothing sitting on it, that tack cloth is so sticky it’s really going to get rid of all of that residue that’s sitting on there. And then you can go ahead and finish it any way you like.
CATHERINE: How do you spell that?
LESLIE: It’s usually in the paint aisle.
CATHERINE: Oh, OK.
CATHERINE: Tack. OK. I got you. And what was the name of this product?
LESLIE: I like Rock Miracle.
CATHERINE: Rock Miracle?
LESLIE: Also in the paint section.
CATHERINE: OK, OK.
TOM: Sounds like a fun project. Catherine, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.