How to Refinish an Oak Desk

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An oak desk is an elegant addition to any home, particularly to a home office. After years of regular use, an oak desk may show signs of wear and look dull. Refinishing an oak desk will restore its elegance and help protect the wood for many years.

Things You'll Need

  • 220-grit sandpaper
  • 120-grit sandpaper
  • Tackcloth
  • Chemical stripper
  • Stain
  • Brush
  • Cloth
  • Polyurethane
  • Steel wool
  • Putty knife
  • Brush a thick coat of chemical stripper onto the oak desk. Allow the stripper to peel off the old finish.

  • Remove the peeling old finish with the putty knife. Remove the old finish from tough areas like the desk legs with the steel wool. Wipe the oak desk with a damp cloth to remove the stripper.

  • Sand the oak desk with 120-grit sandpaper to remove imperfections and bits of the old finish. Wipe the desk with a tackcloth. Sand the oak desk with 220-grit sandpaper to smooth the wood and wipe with a tackcloth.

  • Wipe a coat of the new stain onto the oak desk with a cloth. Allow the new stain to absorb into the wood and wipe off excess with another cloth. Allow the new finish to dry.

  • Brush a thin coat of polyurethane onto the oak desk. Brush in long, smooth strokes to avoid creating bubbles in the finish. Allow the polyurethane to dry and lightly sand the desk with 220-grit sandpaper. Brush a second light coat onto the desk and allow it to dry.

Tips & Warnings

  • Wipe, sand and brush with the grain of the wood
  • Keep your work area well-ventilated.
  • Protect your eyes and hands while working.

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