Asked on Aug 22, 2013

Can someone advise me on how to restore an old oak desk ?

Brenda Smith
by Brenda Smith
i brought this oak desk at a garage sale it has a drawer and a storage compartment on it but the top has some burns on it the owner said they were cigarettes burns i bought the desk to use in my office ,but i don't know how to get the burns out or if i should try and cover it with something help!
q can someone advise me on how to restore an old oak desk, painted furniture, woodworking projects, this photo was taken when i was out with family
this photo was taken when i was out with family
  12 answers
  • Carole Carole on Aug 22, 2013
    Do you have a photo of the desk showing the burns on it?? How deep the burns go may depend how you tackle this. If you are trying to restore the wood rather than paint it or make it over you should seek some professional advice.

  • Patricia Cleveland Patricia Cleveland on Aug 22, 2013
    @Brenda Smith: we really need to see the desk. However, there was a good receipe on hometalk (I believe) for restoring older furniture: mix canola oil and vinegar (3/1 ratio) shake well to mix and apply to the wood. It IS real wood not laminate? Good luck!

    • See 1 previous
    • Patricia Cleveland Patricia Cleveland on Aug 30, 2013
      @Jeanette : a photo will really help so we can see what needs fixing. The oil/vinegar "restores" watermarks I believe but burns no. The burns may lend the desk character, depending where they are...

  • Carole Carole on Aug 22, 2013
    Just one word of warning. Be wary about applying any food based oil to furniture as it can turn rancid with time. I cannot imagine that would smell very pleasant.

  • Louis Lieberman Louis Lieberman on Aug 23, 2013
    Try using a circular power sander to get below the burn marks-assuming there's no veneer- you might sand thru' it.otherwise you might try a dark penetrating stain followed by a sealer good luck.

  • Brenda Smith Brenda Smith on Aug 23, 2013
    thank you all for your advice i'm gonna take a photo of the desk and upload it later :)

    • See 2 previous
    • Sarah Sarah on Sep 12, 2013
      @Brenda Smith Yes, sanding the spots away then if they are very deep you can fill it with wood putty or preferably stainable wood filler then sand that smooth. You can stain it to match then seal it with a varnish. Maybe put a doily over it with a flower vase or candle if it doesn't turn out perfectly.

  • Tammy EL Shafey Tammy EL Shafey on Aug 24, 2013
    @No search results.Carole Australia here is a DIY to help you repair your desk there are video's to help you.

  • Tobey McCool Tobey McCool on Aug 24, 2013
    I would paint it, I know its oak, but I have painted a lot of wood and have no regrets. You can paint the desk in any colour and keep the drawers in the oak, or paint the whole thing. I use Anne Sloan paints and I paint everything now. good luck

  • Leona G Leona G on Aug 24, 2013
    I have used steel wool to remove cigarette burns from various woods with good luck. Just make sure to go with the grain of the wood. You will probably end up with an indentation where the burn was and depending on how much that bothers you, you could fill with a wood filler and stain it all to match. Good luck

    • Susan Bechamp Susan Bechamp on Jul 16, 2015
      @Leona G If the indention after sanding isn't too deep, try a low heat setting on an iron with a damp cloth. I've tried that to raise the wood grain a little to hide minor imperfections. Whatever method you try , if all else fails, you can cover the desk top with leather, or just use a blotter/desk pad.

  • Debra Peters Debra Peters on Aug 24, 2013
    i refinished an oak desk by simply sanding down to raw wood and then applying a matte finish polyethylene. It darkened the wood just a bit, left the grain of the wood to show, came out quite nicely. There were some deep gouges that didn't come out completely, but those just gave it a slightly distressed look that I liked. I'm thinking those burn marks might do the same?

  • Patricia Cleveland Patricia Cleveland on Aug 30, 2013
    @Debra Peters : Sounds really nice -post a photo!

  • Gloria tulip Gloria tulip on Jul 14, 2015
    I restored an oak table that had a bullet hole on top. I did not seal the hole. I ignored it. I first pickled it and did not like that so I went back to natural, leaving a slight pickle look to the finish. I sealed with a water base polyethylene .If I were you I would not look for perfection; realize you will have a functional piece of furniture.

  • UpState UpState on Mar 22, 2016
    Picture would not paint...sand, clean, stain, poly. Imperfections add to character...or for a initially perfect look - buy a crap screw-together desk from Wal-Mart.