Minwax PolyShades stain has always been one of my favorite furniture refinishing products. I’ve used it for so many projects I have featured here on my blog. It is a stain and polyurethane in one and I have been very pleased with how strong the finish is. When my sister sent me pictures of this adorable school desk she brought home a few weeks ago, I knew PolyShades would be the way to go, since she wanted to keep the wood finish instead of painting.
As you can see, it needed a whole mew finish…
My sister is a 5th grade teacher at a local elementary school and she brought this desk home from the school since they were closing it at the end of this year, and not moving the older furniture in this kind of shape to the new school. You could say she rescued this little desk and I think it’s special to her since she is sad to see the school close…not only because she taught there, but she and her kids were all students at the school.
I figured since the top needed to be refinished, the legs of the desk should be as well so they could all be the same color. Besides, they had some dings and scratches too.
The best part about this project was including my nephew! He is 15 years old and did a great job helping me sand the old finish off. I was sending pictures of him sanding the desk to my sister and my Dad and Step-Mom. He worked hard!
I know when you’re looking at a blog and the picture of a sanded surface appears like the one above, it might look like we just zipped right through it…haha. It took a few days work and living life somewhere in between there to finally get it done. I still had a few more places to sand when I took that picture.
I started out with a 50 grit sandpaper both on the belt sander and the Mouse sander, so that it would completely strip the old surface off, then I followed that with a 220 grit sandpaper on the mouse sander to smooth the surface.
I thought the American Chestnut stain would look nice since I had used if before on another furniture makeover and it was a beautiful dark color that would match closely with the original stain on the desk. My sister really liked that one and so I went with it. I’m glad I did!
The first coat of PolyShades doesn’t always go on as evenly because this is really a base coat. Minwax recommends doing at least two coats and that is what I usually do, though I have done up to four coats because I wanted a darker color.
After the first coat dries (about 6 hours), you will need to lightly scuff it with 220 sand paper before applying the second coat. From my experience, the trick with applying the second coat of PolyShades is to lightly brush it on in a swift back and forth motion so the stain goes on evenly. The best way I can explain it is to let it glide across the surface with barely any pressure on the bristles. If you push down too much, you will see brush strokes.
I was glad I refinished the legs as well. I had to be a bit more meticulous while staining them because I had a smaller area to work with that had corners to work around. And just so I could show you, I created a YouTube channel! Yes, I’m finally coming out of my shell and my first video is pretty sad, really. Although the video isn’t very good quality, I just created it so I could load it up to my blog and show you what I’m talking about.
Now, on to the results…
I am very happy with the way it turned out, and I hope my sister will be too! I love the American Chestnut stain…so pretty and perfect for this piece! I had fun decorating it for the photos. It could be used as an everyday work space or a decorative accent table beside a chair or sofa.
You might have noticed the little metal tag in the corner? My sister was hoping I could get that off, but I text her to let her know that trying to remove it was like trying to move Thor’s hammer. I have no idea what was holding that thing down. It just didn’t happen, but I went around it just fine.
This old school desk has a new shiny surface and I hope my sister gets years of use out of it…and she will have this little piece of the school with her, that will always be a special place with so many memories!
Want to see more projects I have completed using Minwax PolyShades? Check out these project links: