Antique School Desk Rescue

Antique School Desk Rescue

This antique school desk has been in my family for a long time. Many years ago, when I was a child, my mom rescued it from her old elementary school before it was scheduled to be torn down.

I played with it as a child, and so did my children. It’s been well-loved and well-used.

Now that my first granddaughter is getting to an age where she can use it, it required some pretty intensive repairs to make it safe for her.

This is one of those situations where I would have preferred not to paint it, but it was necessary. My choices were to leave it as it was, and keep it packed away, OR repair and paint it to cover up the sharp edges and rusty metal so it could be enjoyed by another generation in our family.

Antique School Desk Rescue-- before

There were three places where the veneer had broken off, leaving sharp edges. The metal base was rusty in several places. Clearly, it wasn’t safe for tiny humans to play with as it was.

Dixie Belle Paint to the rescue!

Antique School Desk Rescue

I am partnering with Dixie Belle Paint Company for this post. Paint and stain were generously provided to me by Dixie Belle, but all ideas and creations are my own. This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

Repairing the Wood Veneer

This was my first time working with Dixie Mud, and it worked nicely for filling in the missing wood veneer.

I used a putty knife and filled in the gaps with a generous amount of the Dixie Mud, smoothing it as best I could.

Tip: Blue painter’s tape helped me shape the mud around the corners of the desktop.

I allowed the Dixie Mud to dry for several hours and then used a sanding sponge to smooth out all of the ridges and rough spots.

Antique School Desk Rescue

I was super impressed with how well the Dixie Mud leveled out the gaps and covered the rough and sharp edges of the missing veneer.

After sanding, I used Pristine Clean to clean up all the sanding dust, plus the dirt and grime from years gone by.

Paint & Glue

As a base coat, I had to use some Rust-Oleum spray paint on the metal part of the desk to cover the rusty spots and make the desk safe.

Then I used Gorilla Glue and some clamps to repair the edges of the desk where more layers of veneer were separating.

Antique School Desk

I covered the original label on the back of the desk with blue painter’s tape to prevent it from getting painted. I at least wanted to save this original detail.

After the glue was dry, I was ready for my first coat of chalk paint. I chose Chalk Mineral Paint in the color Drop Cloth, which is a warm white, almost ivory color.

Dixie Belle’s small round brush worked great for the larger sections, and I used a small Artist’s Brush to carefully trim along the edges.

Antique School Desk Rescue

Because of the missing veneer that I filled in with Dixie Mud, I needed a heavier coat of paint than I might have preferred.


To soften the fresh white paint and add a bit of “age” back to the desk, I used Best Dang Wax in both brown and clear to do some distressing. I blended it using an applicator pad until I had the look I wanted.

Antique School Desk Rescue

Finally, I went back over the dark spray paint on the metal frame of the desk and added bronze highlights using Dixie Belle’s Gilding Wax. This made the plain spray paint look so much better!

Antique School Desk Rescue
Antique Desk Rescue

I remember how much fun I had playing “school” with this antique student desk when I was a kid, and I have great memories of my own children playing with it too.

I can’t wait to take some new pics of my little granddaughter trying it out! This little desk has been rescued and is now ready for new memories to be made.

–> I invite you to follow over on Instagram and I will share pics of Evelynn trying out the rescued desk when she visits this weekend.

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This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

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4 thoughts on “Antique School Desk Rescue

  1. I am so happy another family member is able to use it! My grandfather rescued one and fixed it up for me. I recall the day he gave it to me, I was so excited about it. In fact, I still have it! I always cherish items from my grandparents, and I know Evie will too. You did a wonderful job restoring it Niky!

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