My mid century furniture restoration, amateur at best, has been going on for some time and you can see most of my projects on Instagram, I wanted to share my latest as I was pretty proud of how it turned out. I was lucky enough to snag a Florence Knoll executive desk from CL. I couldn’t tell what sort of shape it was in from the the pictures. When I went to go look at it, I quickly realized that this thing had been through a war.

Mid Century Furniture Restoration

mid century Florence Knoll Desk



This desk was obviously used in the garage for projects and just about everything else.


On the side of the drawers there was some sort of spatter and in different colors. I was hoping that some steel wool and Howard’s Feed and Wax would take it off. NO SUCH LUCK!


Because I had to refinish the side panel of the drawers I had to take them out of the frame.

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I started with a chemical stripper, just a generic. Then proceeded to sand with a orbital sander.


All sanded and ready for an application of oil based polyurethane.


Here it is after two coats, fine sanding in-between.


I followed the same steps with the drawer fronts.

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Time to work on the the top. There was a small chip in the veneer on the side so I knew that the veneer was thick and most likely I could save this thing.


Application of chemical stripper. I wanted to use a stripper because with all off the grime and other grunge on the surface I needed all the help I could get.


After I scraped the stripper off I started to sand with the orbital sander.

mid century Florence Knoll Desk

Here is the top all sanded


There were quite a few dark spots, rings and other blemished that remained even after all of the sanding.

Mid Century Furniture Restoration

I made a paste out of Bar Keepers Friend. The oxalic acid will bring out the black spots and rings. You do have to be careful not to leave it on too long becuse it will bleach the wood lighter than the rest of the wood. In some applications it might be wise to put it all over the surface.

mid century Florence Knoll Desk

Here it is all cleaned up after the Bar Keepers Friend application.

I decided that the walnut was a bit light in color so I aded a little dark walnut stain to my polyurethane mixture to give the wood a little more contrast.

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mid century Florence Knoll Desk

I put a total of three coats on the top with a 220 grit light hand sanding in-between.

mid century Florence Knoll Desk

I think it turned out so well I am going to keep this one! You can see some of my other DIYs here