A New Secretary Cabinet for the Craft Room
Secretary desks are so handy, I had been looking for an affordable one for a couple of months. I love them because the hutch provides extra storage without taking up much floor space. I thought the downstairs craft room was finished, but motherhood continues at any age. My youngest decided to return to school so he moved home and I gave up my pretty pink workspace in the basement. So I sold a dresser I had been using for storage and replaced it with this smaller secretary. You have to love having both extra storage and floor space even if furniture refinishing project is always a large job.
This desk is now holding all my office supplies. It looks pretty plain from the outside, but oh that shelving and the foldout desk service is just so fantastic and handy for storage. I am excited to show you the inside.
Repair the Furniture before Painting
The first thing you need to do is repair any woodworking problems. This secretary was starting to come apart a little bit. The veneer was in rough shape, but overall it was still a sturdy little piece of furniture.
Over the last couple of weeks, I had some harsh techie problems, the short story is a new phone, and a new computer that had to go back after only four hours. Resulting in the loss of the pictures for this portion of the makeover if you’re still interested in how I repaired the veneer I am placing the written description at the bottom of the post.
Painted Secretary Tutorial
I enjoy working with latex paints, I like the shine and smooth feel of the finish so I used latex paint for the furniture refinishing. To refinish the secretary, you will need:
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White latex paint. (Benjamin Moore – Linen White)
Turquoise latex paint (Benjamin Moore – Mexicali Turquoise)
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Clean paint brushes (including a fine brush for cutting)
120, 220 and 280 grit sandpaper
Once you have the furniture repaired and fixed, clean it really well. Then sand with 120, 220, and then 280 grade sandpapers.
Unlike the sideboard refinishing I shared recently, you do not need to sand to the wood, just make sure all the surfaces and sanded smooth.
Once the wood is sanded, apply a coat of primer, then lightly hand sand with first 120 and then 220 grit sandpaper. Wipe the dust off with a soft cloth.
Tape off the window and all the hardware. Alternatively, you can remove all the hardware and reassemble the secretary, but I taped mine off really well instead.
Starting with the turquoise paint. Paint all the interior surfaces. Let dry between coats. I painted the inside and outside of all the drawers. Primer and two coats of turquoise. Sand until smooth with 220 and then 280 grid paper.
Before applying the next coat of paint, run your hand over all the surfaces and resand any rough spots with the 220 grit sandpaper. The rough portions from early coats transfer through to the next coat and then you cannot sand them out.
On this piece, the fold-down desk had to have a white edge on the side or it would have shown from the back. You can see on the fold out where I used the small paint brush to cut along the edge. You can use painters tape if you like, but I prefer to use a small paintbrush and cut paint it instead.
The little divider organizer is obviously homemade. The bottom is finished with different strips of wood. I think whoever originally made it was brilliant, and I know its old as well.
Once you have the turquoise painting all done, then finish the outside of your secretary with the white paint.
Fixing the Hardware
The hardware was quite rusted a dirty. For the folding desk hardware, I cleaned it with CLR on a soft cloth before taping it off.
The drawer pulls were originally gold and nice, but the backside was really dirty. I incorrectly assumed they were plastic, so I put them in hot sudsy water and cleaned them with a toothbrush, the gold paint scrubbed right off leaving a gorgeous metal pull. They were gorgeous, I was so happy I showed them to my son. It was evening so I left them on a clean towel to dry overnight. The next morning they were an orange rust mess,
Never have I seen that before, please comment if you have ever experienced this. I was really upset, I used CLR a toothbrush and a scrubbing pad and two hours later the rust was off. I then painted them with metallic silver paint. They are nice, but not like the shiny chrome I had laid out so happily on the towel.
Adding the Curtain
I have not yet applied to be an Amazon affiliate ( soon), but I do order from them. This is a link to the white wire stretch curtain rod I used to hang the curtain. It works really well and it means I can store picture props and thing in the cabinet.
The little screw eyes are sharp enough to penetrate the real wood, no need to predrill, just be patient and twist until the screw eyes bite, it takes a couple of minutes. I then just measured the window and sewed some leftover lace twice the width and the exact length.
To Flatten the Veneer for Painting
To flatten veneer and then add new bits of veneer for an original surface is way beyond my skill level. Repairing bubbled veneer for painting is pretty easy to accomplish as you can use wood filler if necessary.
To flatten the veneer I used a utility knife, an iron, parchment paper, glue, wood filler and 150 and 220 sandpaper.
Applying heat to the veneer flattens the wood and with any luck, the original glue will reattach. The parchment paper protects your iron from any glue residue. Place the tip of the hot iron on the veneer bubble and press. When you lift your iron to check you may see that surrounding veneer has discoloured. Mine returned to normal quickly as it cooled.
Once ironed flat apply weight with a clamp or something really heavy (I used granite samples) to hold it in place and give it a couple of hours to re-adhere. I left mine overnight. If you’re lucky that is all you need to do. I wasn’t lucky.
The veneer was quite a bit flatter than it started but it wasn’t adhering. With a utility knife I scraped out the old glue, the veneer cracked on me during the process but I had to get new glue under it. I applied new glue and reapplied the weight, waiting for three or four hours.
This time it was much better, the glue dried and the veneer was flat. I sanded the surfaces smooth, filled in any cracks with wood filler and let the dry before sanding and painting.
I look forward to hearing your comments, have you ever had something rust like that? Have you ever repaired veneer? Do you like the two colours I picked for the secretary? I would love to hear from you.