Cleaning antique Cole-Steel tanker desk?

I'd really like to thoroughly clean this antique desk I bought a few months ago. Anyone advice would be appreciated, I'd hate to mess something up.
It has some rust, and these really weird edges that someone told me was probably old veneer backing. I'm guessing I'll have to try sanding it. Someday, I'd like to repaint it. For now though I just want it clean. Also, was told to shine it with car wax?
  8 answers
  • Ebbjdl Ebbjdl on Apr 18, 2018

    Use an electric sander, and buff the entire desk Make sure the sandpaper you use is of a fine grade. Remove the handles before you start. Paint it with a metal sealer. You could probably roll this . With just a little use of a brush, about 4 inches, you can do this job. Take the lock out if you can, and buff it up with SOS lightly. Next, when the job is completely dry, spray the draw track with furniture polish, no need to use WD 40, it smells. Good Luck !

  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Apr 18, 2018

    for the rust in a hidden area try using naval jelly

  • 2dogal 2dogal on Apr 18, 2018

    I'd clean it with a soap pad like Brillo. That should get rid of most of the rust. If the rust is deeper in spots, use something more abrasive to remove the spots. You can also use a commercial rust remover in the deeper rust spots. You don't want to use something too abrasive that will dig into the metal and scratch it, like a wire brush. You will have to paint something like a water based polyurethane over the desk or it will rust again. Please, do not use wax or an oil based product as when you go to refinish it later, you will have a harder time refinishing with an oil based product or wax.

  • 2dogal 2dogal on Apr 18, 2018

    BTW: always start out with the most gentle cleansing agent and work up to a stronger more abrasive product.

  • Joj28693390 Joj28693390 on Apr 18, 2018


  • Heje Heje on Apr 18, 2018

    Rustoleum has a rust remover that works great.

  • M. M.. M. M.. on Apr 21, 2018

    I love this desk-we got my daughter an exact one. She esp appreciated the pull-out "typing tables" which for her became extra workspace and her drink holder. Her desk was originally a nasty shade of bandaid. We steel wool-ed the entire desk, taking the drawers out to get around the drawer openings and spray painted it with a hammered finish metallic paint. The top was peeling and kinda sticky/gross but the adhesive would have been too much work to remove even if we did manage to scrape off all of the veneer-ish top. We ended up covering it with contact paper and then got a plexiglass top cut (for the rounded corners) and she loved it. IT was easy to lay photos and other important items under the plexi to see and protect. Bonus was that the sides of the desks held magnetic containers for paperclips, post-its, photos etc. I hope you enjoy making this awesome desk your own!

  • Chriss Grijak Chriss Grijak on Apr 21, 2018

    Wow! Didn’t know this was an antique! Just threw mine out in the trash and it was in excellent condition! If I only knew a couple of hours sooner!