My Desk: Before and After

My desk space has been a work in progress since we moved into this house 3 years ago.
I think this is the 4th desk that I have attempted to make work and I think I may have finally found the right fit.
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This is an old Cypress board that was in my grandfather’s garage for at least 75 years. It is from the old water towers that would line the railroad tracks.
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Story has it that he was going to use it in a boat.
Who knows.
Not me,  that is for sure.
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It is a very rough cut slab that is 12 feet by 3 feet.
A hefty chunk of wood.

My husband and I moved this baby from Minnesota to Virginia in the middle of the winter. Our trailer was only 10 feet long so it hung out a little bit.

It sat in our garage for 4 years while I tried to figure out what to use it for.  Birds made a nest on it.

Then it made the trip from Culpeper, Virginia to Asheville, North Carolina via moving truck where is sat in my basement for another 3 years.
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It is a huge piece of wood.   I had a few woodworkers suggest cutting it.

That was not going to happen.

After a lot of thought I decided to head to Habitat for Humanity to see if I could find a base for the desk. I figured that built in cabinets that were made for desks would work great. Thankfully I was able to find two cabinets that were exactly alike and were file cabinets with drawers.

Perfect size, perfect height.

More importantly perfect price…$15.00 each! Score!

As a trial run to see if it would work I placed the top on the base and used it for about a month.
It was exactly what I wanted.

After a month of using it and getting a lot of slivers it was time to sand it down.
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I ran lots of different ideas of finishes through my mind while I was sanding.
Sand it all the way down?
Just knock the big stuff off and keep the character?
Stain, no stain.
Sand one side, leave the other.

By the time I had sanded for 5 hours.

And used many pads of 60 grit, 120 grit, 220 grit sand paper I ended up sanding it smooth.
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Sanding can be kind of mesmerizing when you start to see the grain coming though.

Unfortunately Cypress wood does not have that pretty of a grain. But the feel of such smooth texture kept me going.

By the time I was done sanding I had decided to stain it Honey by MinWax.
I figured it would be a nice light color, nothing too dark.
And I had a whole quart of it in my cabinet.
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No final picture of the after the sanding stage. Sorry.

When I was done sanding and wiping it down with mineral spirits to make sure the surface was really clean I was ready to stain.

Remember I said that I had an entire quart of Honey stain in the garage.

I don’t remember when I bought the stain and I was quite surprised that I had an entire quart but did not question it.

I should have.

I should have tested it on a small piece of wood.

I should have listened to myself when I thought…hmmmm, seems kinda dark?

I should have and I didn’t.

I was being impatient because I wanted to see it done.

After I made the first swipe of stain across the freshly sanded board did I then remember….This is a mixture of stain I made from Mahogany, Ebony, Honey and some other color I had left over.

This IS NOT going to be a light color.

Oh, well.
A lot more color that I had planned.

But it works OK.
And the finish is very smooth.

No more slivers.

 

Wrought Iron Chalk Paint by Maison Blanche (Asheville Furniture Painter)

Wrought Iron paint by Maison Blanche is really a nice color to work with.
It gives you the dark black color without having to add tint to make it really black.

If you have used other black chalk paints you know what I am referring to.

Annie Sloan’s Graphite is a dark gray, almost black. Which is fine if you want to finish with a dark wax to get the darker color and a little color variation in your finish. I finished a maple cabinet in my kitchen with Graphite and dark wax and you can check it out here.  I really like the finish on this piece but it does require a little more elbow grease.

With the Wrought Iron I am able to use clear wax.

Neither are wrong. Both give a great look.

Because I used a flash in these pictures the light has bounced off the surface giving it an ashy appearance. In person these color variations do not exist.
I was hesitant to use these photos because of the light reflection and it does make it a little unattractive but oh well,  Here they are.