DIY: Vintage School Desk

Skill Level: Intermediate

Vintage is the new modern. Can you get your hands on an old school desk somewhere? Belgeunfois did and she made it brand new.

Belgeunfois explains everything in this tutorial. The desk got a new life, whilst keeping its character.

Step by Step Instructions

Step 1. Draft

Start by making a draft. So, you are sure nothing will be forgotten.
The general idea was to sand the biggest part of the wood, paint the metal structure and use one of the inkpots to build a lamp out of it. The other inkpot will be used as a pencil holder. We will also make a trench for an iPad or other tablet.

Step 2. Dissassembly

The first step and not the easiest one is the disassembly. Arm yourself with an electric screwdriver and go! Be careful with the old screw-heads, they can break and then you won’t be able to remove them.

Tip: use a bit of WD-40, an antiseizespray that makes it easier to remove old and rusty screws.

If the screws are still in good shape, note down where they are from and keep them. This way you can use them again without struggling.

Tip: put the old rusty screws in some vinegar to clean them.

Step 3. Sand

One of my favourite steps, sanding. Be careful and examine your wood / material before you start. If you work with solid wood, you can sand multiple layers without any issues. If you are working with more precious wood / with a very tin layer of solid wood, you need to sand the top layer very carefully.

For this step you use the BLACK+DECKER Mouse. Very flexible and you don’t need a power point nearby! Perfect for small appliances and finishing. You need 3 types of sanding paper: 80gr, 100gr en 120gr.

The smaller the grain, the more wood it takes. So, we start with an aggressive grain and end with a soft paper, to make the surface soft and smooth.

We wanted to keep some of the desk’s authenticity. So, we kept not sanded parts at the edges to create a variegation between the (light) sanded wood and the (dark) natural wood.

Step 4. Paint the Metal feet

Luckily the metal feet on the desk were never painted before. So, after a small cleansing they were ready to be painted!

An interesting tip to decide on the right spray. Do not go to a DIY-store for your paint. They are very expensive and of bad quality. Go take a look in a graffiti store. They are not only cheaper, but of great quality and the colour palette is so extended!

First apply a base layer and then pain with the desired colour. If wanted you can finish with gloss paint!

Step 5. Trench for the tablet

This was definitely the hardest step for me. I used the BLACK+DECKER drill, circular saw and some wood chisels. I made 2 holes (12mm) at the outer parts of the trench. These will be used to pull the power cables through. They also are a marker point for the circular saw.

To hold the iPad / tablet you need a depth of about 15mm and a cutting angle from 45-50 degrees. With a guide and some pencil spots I decide where to put the sawblade. You will need to repeat this act a couple of time to get the right width. Only one shot, not room for errors!

Tip: You could also use a router for this

That’s it, the dock is ready. I make one last saw cut in the middle of the trench. This goes though the desk at both sides, so the wire has some space. It is normal cut size, so the tablet won’t be able to fall through.

To finish everything neatly I finished with a wood chisel.

Step 6. Create Some Light

I used the hole of tone of the inkpots for the lamp. It fits the neck of the lamp perfectly. I used an ordinary ceiling lamp for this. You only need to find a power plug to attach at the end. You only need to combine to cables, and voila!

Step 7. Assembly

Almost there. Repeat your disassembly steps, the other way around and everything should go fine. I replaced all the screws, to make the desk as durable as possible.

Find a nice place to put the desk and finished!


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