David recently spotted this small pine secretary desk curbside in Old City and quickly put it in the vestibule of the office with the intent to take it home and salvage it. He has been looking for a potting bench for a while, and this seemed to be a great candidate. I had my eyes on it for other reasons which should be clear from the photos. It was in bad shape but has the character that only comes with age and cannot be reproduced.
It had a top made of two solid boards, a rare feature in the current day of reconstituted wood furniture, that unfortunately could not be salvaged because they were so badly warped. I simply removed the top and took the drawer out and re-glued the four posts to their skirt boards and clamped it to dry. The resulting table base is as solid as the day it was made.
I made a new top out of a solid pine butcher block top that I cut down to size, stained and sealed with a very traditional finish: hard paste wax. This wax is sometimes referred to as "Butcher's Wax," which refers to a trade name and not its actual use. It forms a hard and waterproof finish that dries matte without altering the color of the wood finish and made a pretty consistent match between the top and the base. It was traditionally used on bowling alley lanes and can even be used to seal a finish on plate steel. It is applied in exactly the same manner as waxing a car: just apply, let dry and buff to polish and remove excess. Purchase Minwax Furniture wax here.