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Descending Ashtray » Recycled Fir Built-In Desk

Recycled Fir Built-In Desk

Hey there, blog. Been awhile. Sorry about that.

I have been working sporadically away on the attic, trying to wrap up some details like painting trim (apparently the only problem with pre-primed trim is that it looks almost done), and trying not to think of the tile job that lies behind my custom door.

Built-in Shaker-style desk of reclaimed fir

Tonight I installed something I’ve been excited about for some time – a built-in, Shaker-inspired desk I made over the last couple of weeks, using flooring we pulled up from the attic. We had originally intended to re-use the old flooring, but some miscalculation, haphazard removal techniques, and a fair bit of lead paint prevented our doing so. Still, I saved all the nice, clear vertical grain stuff that didn’t have lead paint on it, imaging a re-use just like this (and I have a few more ideas to come). It was also my first time turning drawer knobs – not a bad first effort if I do say so!

I really, really fought the finish on this project, though. I saw Norm Abrams fill nail holes with black-tinted epoxy once. What I didn’t see was how difficult the invariable drips are to remove, particularly from a wood as porous as Douglas Fir. The surface is far from flat where I sanded too long – I call it “rustic.” Next time, I’ll mask the area around the hole with tape before filling with epoxy.

Then, I appled a couple coats of danish oil, hoping to get some nice finish depth, but after two coats, decided it wasn’t going to provide the moisture protection a desk beneath a skylight might require. So I applied some water-based polyurethane. I’m not 100% sure that’s what caused the finish to craze, but I suspect that a water-based finish over an oil-based one is not a good idea in general. I also failed to recall what a bubbly mess polyurethane can be. More sanding, and I ended up reverting to Daly’s ProFin, my old standby.


I really like the look of the finished piece, though. It’s rustic, time-worn look is a good match for the door I finished a few months ago, and it’s nice to give an old material, native to the space, some new life.

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