Do-It-Yourself Writing Desk —(Stained & Waxed)

My little desk I built is now completely finished, and I decided to go there with a spotty, waxed finish.

If you missed the previous post on this project, where I show how to build the desktop, you can find it here…

So yesterday I got to work on arrival. And after spending a little time working through all the details of the room in my head (in particular, how I would use the golden yellow velvet fabric I had originally planned for a new headboard), I finally developed my plan and decided to go there with a spotty finish on the desk.

The base of the desk and the trim around the desk are made of pine, but the plywood panel is made of birch, so I was afraid that everything would fit together. But in the end I am very pleased with the way it happened.

I started by coloring the entire office with the Varathane Premium dye in the Carrington color. This particular spot is not a penetrating spot, but it is also not a gel spot. It is somewhere in between, so a similar finish on different types of wood with darker colors is quite simple. Here’s how he took care of a diaper, brushed with a brush, and after drying for a couple of hours.

It was good at that time, and I could have put polyurethane on it and called it good. But the finish seemed really dark, and the stain had covered most of the grain of the wood. Although I was not a fan of wood grain on pine, I thought that the birch top had a beautiful grain, and I hated so much to cover it.

So I sanded the entire desk by hand with 220-grit sandpaper. And I just continued to grind easily and strategically (meaning I did more grinding on any areas that looked particularly dark and stained) until I uncovered enough grain for my taste. But then the general color was too bright.

I considered using a polyurethane with an additional dye to darken and smooth the finish, but I remembered that I had Annie Sloan Black wax, which I had for years. So I took that out and used it on top, and it gave the wood so much color depth.

I’m not really an expert in furniture wax, and I hate reading the instructions, so I really had no idea what I was doing. At first I tried to achieve a super smooth and perfect finish by wiping it and polishing it with a cloth at the same time. It really did not work, because it seemed to be simply smeared and striped.

Then I remembered how I had a very nice finish on the console I was building for input. (You can see this project here if you missed it.) On this piece I used briwax lime wax (the white wax), but the process was to use a more generous amount, let it dry a little and then polish it with steel wool. So I decided to try the same process here.

In fact, I used a paper towel and applied the dark wax in a circular motion. I tried not to let it accumulate too much, as these really dark areas clog the steel wool pretty quickly, but I had trouble getting a smooth application, but that might be because the wax is so old. After applying the wax to the entire top, it looked like this…

I left it like this for about an hour, then I came back and started polishing the surface with “000”steel wool. I’m sure “0000” would have been better, but that’s what I had on hand, and I didn’t want to take a trip to Home Depot just because of the steel wool, so I went with it. It worked wonderfully. You can see the central area I polished with steel wool compared to the rest of the spotted top…

The shine on the polished area was beautiful and it was velvety. It was just as smooth as any factory finish, but it had a much nicer and more natural hand rubbed appearance than a factory finish. Here’s how it looked with all that polished top. Do you see this gorgeous satin shine?

(And hey! Look at me with a cloth! )

But seriously, this finish! I wish you could touch him. I mean, it’s velvety. The only thing that would make it better would be if I had an electric buffer or a buffer for my electric sander. But even without this, I’m as glad as it happened.

So I went ahead and made the base the same way. Since it is pine, it does not look as beautiful as the top. But if the base is such a simple design (which means that there are simply not many of them), that’s fine.


I decided to keep the drawer natural and just color/grow the front of the drawer.

This room has no place for a chair with a backrest, since the sliding doors of the cabinet do not have a place to open. So I need to find a nice little stool to go with the desk. I really love this cushioned stool from Target, and the price is good, but it’s too short to be used as a chair for a standard height office.

This stool is only 17.5 inches high, and I need one that is about 20 inches high. That’s a disappointment, because that’s exactly the kind of thing I’m looking for, and that’s the right price. But I’ll keep looking.

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